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Ethical Studies 


181 le2 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 


Selected Essays 

The Library of Liberal Arts 

The Library of Liberal Arts 

General Editor 


Selected Essays 

F. H. Bradley 

With an introduction by 

Ralph G. Ross 
Professor of Philosophy, The University of Minnesota 

The Library of Liberal Arts 
published by 


THE BOBBS-MERRILL compakt. mc 


Publishers • Indianapolis • new vork 

F. H. Bradley: 1846-1924 

Ethical Studies was originally published in 1876 

COPYRIGHT ©, 1951 


All Rights Reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 


Selected Bibliography vi 

Editor's Introduction vii 

Note on the Edition 2 


Why Should I Be Moral 3 

Question rests on a dogmatic preconception; which is 
opposed to the moral consciousness; and is unreasonable. 
The end is self-realization; as is shown from morality; and 
from psychological considerations. It means realizing self 
as a whole; and an infinite whole. 

Pleasure for Pleasure's Sake 29 

Happiness a vague phrase. Common opinion on pleasure. 
Hedonism irreconcilable with morality. Illusory nature of 
the Hedonistic end. My pleasure as the end gives no rule 
of life. And the pleasure of all is illusory; opposed to 
morality; and gives no practical guidance; it is dogmati- 
cally postulated; and irreconcilable with Hedonistic psy- 
chology. Further modifications of Hedonism. Qualitative 
distinction of pleasures is, in both its forms, untenable. 
Further criticism on Mill's view. Results. 

Duty for Duty's Sake 81 

The end is the Good Will. This is the universal form. What 
"ought" means. Principle of noncontradiction. This con- 
tradicts itself. Duty and duties. Psychological objection. 
Practical uselessness of noncontradiction. Collision of 
duties unavoidable. 

My Station and Its Duties 98 

Present result. Advance to a higher point of view. Individ- 
ualism criticized. The end is realization as a member of a 
community. The moral organism seems to be the solution 
of ethical problems. Satisfactoriness of this view. Relative 
and absolute morality. Intuitive character of moral judg- 
ments. Morality not a mere private matter. Criticism of 
the above view. 

Concluding Remarks 147 


Works by Bradley 

Ethical Studies (1876) ; second edition, revised, with additional 
notes. Oxford, 1927. 

Principles of Logic (1883) ; second edition, revised, with Ter- 
minal Essays. Oxford, 1922. 

Appearance and Reality (1893) ; second edition, with appendix 
(1897), new edition. Oxford, 1930. 

Essays on Truth and Reality. Oxford, 1914. 

Collected Essays. Oxford, 1935. 

Works about Bradley 

Campbell, Charles Arthur. Scepticism and Construction. London, 

Church, Ralph W. Bradley* s Dialectic. Ithaca, New York, 1942. 

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. Francis Herbert Bradley (1926), re- 
printed in T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays. New York, 1932. 

Kagey, Rudolf, F. H. Bradley s Logic. New York, 1931. 

Metz, Rudolf. A Hundred Years of British Philosophy. London, 

Muirhead, John H. The Platonic Tradition in Anglo-Saxon 
Philosophy. London, 1931, chapters V-IX. 

Ross, Ralph Gilbert. Scepticism and Dogma: A Study in the 
Philosophy of F. H. Bradley. New York, 1940. 

Taylor, Alfred Edward. Francis Herbert Bradley, 1846-1924. 
Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. XI, 1924-5, pp. 



"It is unusual," wrote T. S. Eliot in 1926, "that a book 
so famous and influential should remain out of print so long as 
Bradley's Ethical Studies.'^ Bradley apparently planned a total 
revision of the book before he would allow republication, but 
when he died he left only some notes for his revision, making 
no change in the essentials of his belief. A second edition, with 
the notes, was published in 1927, fifty-one years after the book's 

Reading Bradley is always a pleasant experience, although 
it is sometimes mixed with exasperation. Indubitably, Bradley 
deserves his place in that long line of British philosophers who 
are masters of English prose — a line that includes Bacon, Hobbes, 
Berkeley, and Hume. Although he often lacks the clarity of his 
predecessors, Bradley has his own qualities: precision and inten- 
sity, wit that is sometimes caustic, an alteration of assurance 
and diffidence, and above all, a singular honesty that often 
startles the reader by admission of error. As with all good 
writers, Bradley's style brings one into the presence of the man, 
in his case a man always exciting, sometimes paradoxical, with 
a deep sense of his mission as a philosopher. Yet this man, who 
does not hide himself behind an impersonal mask of prose, whose 
style is that extension of personality that all work should be, 
was a recluse for most of his life, seldom seen by his colleagues, 
with no students, and perhaps no intimates. 

It was natural enough that Bradley should seek an academic 
career. An older half-brother, G. G. Bradley, was Master of 
University College, Oxford, and later Dean of Westminster. A 
younger brother, A. C. Bradley, became a distinguished literary 
critic and foremost Shakespearian scholar. F. H. Bradley (born 
January 30, 1846) early showed promise of scholarship and 
philosophic ability but failure to take a First Class in "Greats" 


viii Ethical Studies 

at Oxford, and a subsequent failure to obtain a Fellowship upset 
him deeply and gave him much concern for his future. In 1870, 
however, Merton College, Oxford, elected him to a Fellowship 
with life tenure, but with the traditional stipulation that it was 
terminable by marriage. 

A description of Bradley at about this time by his sister carries 
conviction, even allowing for her strong prejudice in his favor. 

His outward appearance was striking; he was tall and upright in 
carriage; well and muscularly made, singularly handsome, with large 
gray-blue eyes under dark eyebrows and lashes, a well-modelled fore- 
head, mouth, and chin; his head set well on his shoulders. It 
certainly was an arresting face . . . 

Athletic as a youth, Bradley's physical activities had been 
somewhat curtailed, shortly before he came to study at Oxford, 
by a severe attack of typhoid fever which was followed by 
pneumonia. But it was not until about a year after he became 
a Fellow of Merton that his whole mode of life was changed by a 
"violent inflammation of the kidneys" (never precisely diagnosed) 
which turned him into a Ufelong invalid. We can only speculate 
on the changes in Bradley made by ill-health: in later years, 
some regarded him as sensitive and kindly; others as splenetic. 

From 1871 on, although he attended college functions and 
concerned himself with the business and administrative affairs 
of Merton — junior colleagues sometimes being terrified by the 
mordant wit of the man rumored to be "the best mind in England" 
— he remained for the most part in his rooms, never teaching, 
seldom having guests, often leaving Oxford to avoid the cold. 
Indeed, his constant fear of cold and draughts raises psychological 
questions about Bradley which could only be answered if we 
had considerably more information. In any event, he was the 
type of invalid whose constant self-care helped him outlive his 
contemporaries. He died of blood-poisoning on September 18, 
1924, in his 79th year, after a short illness. 

As a Fellow of Merton for fifty-four years, Bradley's life 
story is chiefly the intellectual life recorded in his writing. Each 
of his books made a great stir. Bosanquet called the publication 

Introduction ix 

of Ethical Studies "an epoch-making event." When William 
James read The Principles of Logic he used the same phrase, 
writing: "It is surely 'epoch-making' in English philosophy." 
Appearance and Reality called forth the comment from Edward 
Caird that it was the greatest event since Kant, and Muirhead 
went even farther back in intellectual history: "...nothing like 
it," he wrote, in reviewing the effect of the book, "had appeared 
since Hume's Treatise.'' In June, 1924, Bradley's accomplish- 
ments were officially recognized by the King, who awarded him 
the Order of Merit, a remarkable, almost unique, tribute to an 
English philosopher.^ 


Bradley is ordinarily regarded as the most original and sys- 
tematic of those British thinkers who brought German philosophy 
to England and opposed the dominant native tradition of empiri- 
cism. Although writers like Coleridge and Carlyle were very 
much influenced by German thought, it still remained for a 
later group to master the technical equipment of the Germans 
and to apply it systematically. The most important members of 
this group were perhaps Green (predominantly a Kantian) ; Brad- 
ley, Bosanquet (usually treated as Hegelians) ; and McTaggart 
(an original thinker, with some resemblance to the Left Hegel- 
ians) ; but there were a host of others, who held academic — and 
sometimes political — ^posts of prime importance: Stirling, Caird, 
Nettleship, Haldane, Muirhead, Ward, Joachim, Pringle-Pattison, 
Seth, Rashdall, Taylor, Hoernle — to name only some of them. 
The attack that these men mounted against English empiricism 
and Scottish intuitionism was successful in that the rebels created 
a new orthodoxy and then had to fight a rear-guard action against 
the realists and pragmatists of another generation. What Eliot 
said of Bradley might be repeated by their admirers about the 
whole group: "He replaced a philosophy which was crude and 
raw and provincial by one which was, in comparison, catholic, 
civilized, and universal." 

^ In 1949 the Order of Merit was awarded to Bertrand Russell. The 
political implication is clear, since a labor government was in power. 

X Ethical Studies 

In theory of knowledge and metaphysics, Bradley and most of 
the British Idealists emphasized both the creative powers of mind 
and the organic character of the universe, and they returned 
religion to eminence among "advanced" thinkers (McTaggart is 
a notable exception). By insisting that error and evil are results 
of viewing the world in its parts, but that the Whole is true and 
good, they became apologists for a kind of Christian theology, 
stated in new terms and demanding reason, not faith, for proof. 
In ethics and politics they were by and large supporters of 
conservatism (with some exceptions, like T. H. Green). To 
understand this, it is important to distinguish two historical 
traditions: that of nature, for the most part liberal; and that of 
society, chiefly conservative. Although these traditions can be 
found in ancient thought, it is the modern world, in which the 
lines have been drawn somewhat differently, with which we will 
concern ourselves. One can pose Locke and Hegel as representa- 
tives of almost antithetical positions — traditional empiricism and 
idealism respectively. To regard man as a creature of nature, 
or of God, capable of probable knowledge of the world, assured 
of natural law and natural right, is basic to English empiricism. 
It leaves its mark on documents like the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence and the Rights of Man. Society, it follows, should 
not violate natural rights, which are universal; institutions like 
the state are means for living well, and if they do not serve 
their purposes they should be altered or abolished. The indi- 
vidual act of thought attains tremendous importance. By thinking, 
men can discover whether or not their institutions are worthy, 
and how, if necessary, to change them. 

The general temper of this Lockean attitude is not changed 
by the utilitarian attack on natural law. Instead of a state of 
nature and natural rights, the utilitarians depend on other "uni- 
versal truths" about human psychology and the rational calculation 
of advantage. For earlier empiricists, individual liberty is a 
natural, or God-given, right; for John Stuart Mill it is a 
supremely useful social device, necessary for good government. 
We cannot, according to Mill, govern well without truth, and 
truth is a product of that human inquiry from which no one 

Introduction xi 

should be barred, for he may be right. Truth is not certain, 
and the great advantage of scientific procedures is that they can 
correct error; so no matter what our social decisions, people must 
be free to criticize, for we may be wrong. 

There is, of course, a variation on this school of nature which 
has a very different sound. If metaphysics, or the authority of a 
church, can yield absolute knowledge, then society should be 
reshaped in accordance with the truth, and no one should be 
allowed to question it. Why should error be allowed when truth 
is known? 

The reaction against the belief in natural man gave us a 
belief in social man and historical man. If man as we know 
him is essentially natural, not social, he has not changed through 
history; only the institutional forms of his society have changed. 
But if man is essentially social, he has changed along with 
changes in institutions. For the school of society, man is to be 
understood in terms of his history, his traditions, his institutions. 
These contain a kind of collective wisdom, for they embody the 
ways in which the race has solved its problems. The individual 
act of thought, and to some extent the individual himself, loses 
importance; for the act of thought is conditioned by society and, 
insofar as its conclusion differs from the conventional, the ac- 
cepted, it is opposing the history and the wisdom of the race. 

Hume, as a Tory in politics, had intimated portions of this 
argument, and had paved the way for Burke. But as an empir- 
icist, Hume had developed other theories which were used by the 
philosophical radicals. It was Burke, and to some extent Carlyle, 
who developed the conservative implications of social man in 
England. The Germans, especially Hegel (and in his own way, 
Marx) developed the full doctrine of "historicism." 

Social institutions in any specified locality and time, it was 
maintained, are pretty much of a piece. They exhibit an under- 
lying idea which can be discovered by examining them in their 
interrelations; and they are the necessary product of what preceded 
them. Equally, man's philosophies, his moral obligations, his 
artistic creations, are relative to, and integrated with, a given 
society and a given time. 

xii Ethical Studies 

This philosophy of society and history creates a paradox by 
its very statement. Is it not itself a product of a culture and an 
age, to be succeeded by another philosophy, equally true for its 
time? No, it can be answered, for it is a philosophy which 
explains philosophies, a sort of meta-philosophy. Its truth, then, 
is not relative, like the truth of other philosophies; it is absolute, 
and must not be superseded. 

This paradox and its resolution create further doctrine. 
Throughout history, there is a progression toward greater and 
still greater self-consciousness, an accretion of wisdom, until the 
process itself is finally understood. In the course of this process, 
society moves toward absolute truth, in its outlines at least, about 
the universe, society, and man. 

This assurance of truth in general, which does not always extend 
to truth in detail, is far from uncommon. People who are unsure 
of the laws of physics, the name of England's ruling house, and 
the size of the population of New York, are often sure of the 
nature and destiny of man, his purposes on earth, and the nature 
of his moral obligations. Bradley, who was honestly doubtful 
of many of his own conclusions, and who rejected much of the 
Hegelian pattern, could yet write about his doctrine of the 
Absolute : 

Outside our main result there is nothing except the wholly unmean- 
ing, or else something which on scrutiny is seen really not to fall 
outside. Thus the supposed Other will, in short, turn out to be 
actually the same; or it will contain elements included within our 
view of the Absolute, but elements dislocated and so distorted into 
erroneous appearance. And the dislocation itself will find a place 
within the limits of our system. 

The approval which won Bradley the Order of Merit can 
perhaps be better understood in terms of this background: The 
British Idealists were justifying the established social order; 
they were sanctifying tradition by making it reasonable; in a 
way they were justifying all traditions by making them right 
for their time and place, and then adding a fillip to their self- 
righteousness by making theirs the best, because it was the latest. 

Introduction xiii 

Hegel had done the same thing for Prussia; Marx did it for those 
rebels who allied themselves with the society to come; Bradley 
did it, less explicitly, for England. 

The absolute idealists, believing in the organic nature of the 
universe and in man as a part of the total organism, could not, 
however, rest entirely on society as a criterion of morals. They 
developed a twofold criterion based on the dual nature of man: 
as social and as ideal. This was an attempt to deal with man as 
a natural being by redefining nature so as to make it ideal, or 
spiritual, or experiential, and in consequence to redefine man. 
But the opposition between man as social and man as ideal 
created a new problem to be resolved dialectically on a higher 
level. In ethics, the problem was posed thus: man should fulfill 
his obligations as a member of society; he should also live up 
to his ideal nature; how, then, should he behave so as to reconcile 
the two? 

Naturalism has made us familiar with the belief that man is 
continuous with nature, not a perceptive and purposive creature 
set off from a blind and mechanical matter. Bradley's attitude 
toward man and his relations to the world is more romantic 
than naturalistic. "Man," says the romantic poet John Davidson, 
"is the Universe become conscious." Bradley writes: "What I 
mean by truth and reality is that world which satisfies the claim 
of the Universe present in and to what I call self." And then 
he puts it perhaps even more strongly : "... my desire and my 
will to have truth is the will and the desire of the world to become 
truth in me. Truth is a mode of the self-realization of myself 
and of the Universe in one." 

Bradley's belief in the continuity of the individual with the 
universe implies not only a special conception of the individual but 
also a special conception of the universe. It is as if the universe 
as a total structure actually strove to realize itself in the conscious- 
ness of man. That consciousness is a perspective on a common 
world, but it is not a perspective that can be shared directly with 
others; what sharing there is results from communication. The 
self is not to be identified with a perspective, or an individual 
consciousness. The self may not be distinguished, in any partic- 

jdv Ethical Studies 

ular experience, from the object of that experience (as in the 
instance of listening to music) ; on the other hand the self may 
become its own object of thought. 

We can now understand more clearly the pioblem of the dual 
nature of man. Society is not the sole criterion of morality, 
because man is not only a sbcial being; he is a part of the 
universe as well. His obligations would be inadequately met by 
the performance of social duty; he has also to live up to the 
conditions imposed on him as a being through whom universal 
truth and reality strive to be realized. 


The publication of Ethical Studies was a setback to the influence 
of the Utilitarians. It wps the first full-scale work in ethics of 
the British Idealists and it pointed a direction which, for the 
most part, they took. The book contains a vigorous polemic, with 
all of Bradley's dialectical virtuosity in play, against both the 
Utilitarians and the Kantians. The Utilitarians, Bradley argued, 
did not understand the necessarily universal character of morals; 
and the Kantians understood the universal but provided it with 
no content. The categorical imperative urged a duty which it 
never defined, but it was a universal duty and Bradley tried to 
make it concrete. 

The general principle that Bradley urged as a moral guide 
was self-realization. This involves the problem of the nature 
of the self and, as we have seen, that is twofold. One of its 
aspects, the nature of man as social, is the basis for criticism of 
the school of nature in philosophy. In the chapter, "My Station 
and its Duties," Bradley presents the heart of his arguments. His 
position is more extreme than Rousseau's. Rousseau had regarded 
man's humanness as being a result of society; Bradley made 
society necessary for man's reality. 

. . . man is a social being; he is real only because he is social, and 
can realize himself only because it is as social that he realizes himself. 
The mere individual is a delusion of theory; and the attempt to 
realize it in practice is tjie starvation and mutilation of human nature, 
with total sterility or the production of monstrosities. 

Introduction rv 

Each individual man has a station in society; he is not merely 
an anonymous member of it. Every station is individual. It 
is not merely that a man is a lawyer; he is this lawyer, with 
these clients, and a particular set of cases that he has tried. Every 
citizen, or subject, will have certain moral obligations just insofar 
as he is a citizen or subject; he will have other obligations insofar 
as he is a farmer, husband, father, and so on; he will have still 
other obUgations insofar as he is himself, a specific and identifiable 
part of the larger network of social relations, uniquely determined 
by the totality of his own relations. 

This leads to a position at once stoical and conservative. Every 
station in life has obligations which should be fulfilled. In 
general, fulfilling them, doing one's work in the world is good. 
It is shallow to raise questions about whether there should be 
such a station as some man occupies or whether its obligations 
are worthy of being fulfilled. The existence of the station Is the 
product of a social history that embodies human wisdom. It is 
arrogant and pretentious to think that I, who result from that 
history and am formed by the institutions in which I was educated, 
can question their essential soundness. Bradley says: ". . . 'my 
station and its duties' teaches us to identify others and ourselves 
with the station we fill; to consider that as good, and by virtue of 
that to consider others and ourselves good too. It teaches us 
that a man who does his work in the world is good, not with- 
standing his faults, if his faults do not prevent him from fulfilling 
his station. It tells us that the heart is an idle abstraction ; Ave are 
not to think of it, nor must we look at our insides, but at our 
work and our life, and say to ourselves, Am I fulfilling my 
appointed function or not? Fulfill it we can, if we will: what 
we have to do is not so much better than the world that we cannot 
do it; the world is there waiting for it; my duties are my rights." 

Not only does this position dispose of the empiricists, but it 
also corrects the Kantians by showing how a man's specific duties 
can be discovered. To state the categorical imperative without 
qualification is for Bradley only to insist that we should fulfill 
undefined duties. What is to happen when a man has several 
duties and these conflict? Even in a particular case, what is the 

xvi Ethical Studies 

precise extent of our behavior in following our duty? Bradley 
conceives an "ordinary man" as thinking: 

One should give to the poor — in what cases and how much? Should 
sacrifice oneself — in what way and within what limits? Should not 
indulge one's appetite — except when it is right. Should not idle away 
one's time — except when one takes one's pleasure. Nor neglect one's 
work — but for some good reason. All these points we admit are in 
one way matter of law; but if you think to decide in particular 
cases by applying some "categorical imperative" you must be a 
pedant, if not a fool. 

In giving Kant's universal a particular content, Bradley has 
come perilously near to an identification of what is with what 
ought to be, so that, as with Hegel or Marx, it is almost impossible 
to avoid the conclusion that what is, is right. Bradley did not 
even have the philosophical justification of an elaborate philosophy 
of history which, like Hegel's or Marx's (or for that matter St. 
Augustine's) , makes the good an inevitable outcome of historical 
development. He was not committed to the doctrine that what 
exists is necessary and what is necessary is right. His conserva- 
tism is more like Burke's: a belief in the wisdom of existing 
institutions and social relationships. But, with Hegel, Bradley 
believed in the organic character of society as well as the organic 
character of the world. 

The second aspect of man's nature is what saves him from a 
necessary acceptance of all that is conventional. As a part of the 
organic universe, man has other duties than those to society. Not 
only does the universe try to realize itself in man as truth and 
reality, but also as goodness. This goodness consists, at least 
in part, in trying to attain truth and reality and beauty. In a 
way, these obligations are based on our social nature, for we 
would not be real, or capable of understanding, except that we 
are social. But they transcend the social; just as social duties 
may be inconsistent with each other, so these universal obligations 
may be inconsistent with social obligations. We may regard this 
inconsistency as placing the whole matter on the level of Appear- 
ance (in Bradley's later terminology) and so driving us to 

Introduction xvii 

something still farther off in order to effect a reconciliation. 
What we are driven to, Bradley says, is religion. In religion, 
man's actual social self and his ideal universal self are somehow 
reconciled in the acceptance of God, and in the way in which we 
are at one and the same time set apart from God and yet united 
with Him. 

In later years, when Bradley had elaborated a complete meta- 
physical system, religion, too, seemed insufficient and even God 
was subordinated to the Absolute. But this is just a higher 
dialectical stage; the principles of the solution are the same. In 
practical terms, however, the problem of conflicting duties is not 
resolved however much it seems, verbally, to disappear. A man 
must act, and any attempt to reconcile the opposition between his 
duties as a social being and his duties as an ideal, or a natural 
being, by the invocation of religion only raises another problem: 
should one fulfill his religious duties even where they conflict with 
other duties? Bradley's emphasis on the social nature of man 
was a badly needed antidote to the extreme individualism of the 
empiricist tradition. Carried too far, the antidote is worse than 
the disease for it denies the individuality of man and leads to his 
total subordination to the State. Bradley was too honest to deny 
all other aspects of man's nature but the social one; he was too 
well aware of the power of the individual mind for any such 

But Bradley's solution of man's dualism is not sufficient to 
permit criticism of the conventionally moral and of human institu- 
tions. The problem remains of doing justice to the natural and 
genetic aspects of man, on the one hand, and his social aspect, on 
the other. Then the philosopher, on the basis of an adequate 
social theory, must formulate criteria m terms of which we can 
make particular judgments of value, so that we can adjust society 
to changing conditions, preserving what is valuable and eliminating 
what is not valuable. 


For a time, Bradley and the other British Idealists constituted 

xviii Ethical Studies 

a new orthodoxy, as did their counterparts in America. Then 
empiricism and naturalism returned, in a more sophisticated 
version, and became, at the least, an equally accepted alternative. 
A good deal of the new sophistication of the empiricists was a 
result of idealist criticism. Mind was no longer regarded as 
passive, or initially "blank," nor were social influences on mind 
and behavior neglected. But reading Bradley today is not to be 
justified only by his historical importance, or the qualities of 
his prose, though they are excellent justifications. 

Bradley carried a specific set of beliefs about as far as they 
could go; he thought through the problems he set himself, with 
stubbornness and honesty. If we find some of his arguments to 
be purely verbal, even when he regards them as something more, 
we cannot thereby impugn his integrity. If we find his dialectic 
sometimes confusing or equivocal, we cannot therefore deprecate 
his brilliance. Our assumptions and our criteria may be different, 
and we can refuse to accept his conclusions. But we should be 
willing to learn from him and to formulate his best insights in our 
own terms. 

It is easy to be misled by the articulateness of contemporary 
naturalists into the belief that their doctrines are more widely 
understood and accepted than they actually are. Bradley's pre- 
suppositions are still current, even when they are called by a 
variety of names, and one can find them in political theories, in 
the writings of some gestalt psychologists, in the social philo- 
sophizing of some anthropologists, in educational philosophy, 
institutional theory, and so on. The basic difference between 
Bradley and most of those who share his assumptions is that 
Bradley carried the argument through. If we are prepared to 
follow him, to see where'the beliefs lead when they are treated 
with great intelligence and care, we can understand better the 
full implications of much contemporary thinking. 

New York University 
November, 1950 

Ethical Studies 

(^Selected Essays) 


The material selected and reprinted here is of two kinds: 
the most important of Bradley's polemics (against the Utilitarians 
and against the Kantians) ; and the chief line of constructive 
theory in the Ethical Studies. It is essentially on the following 
Essays that Bradley's reputation as an original moralist must rest. 

The Essays have been reprinted in their entirety, including his 
Notes and footnotes. Spelling and punctuation have been revised 
to conform to current American usage. Since the author makes 
repeated references to several of the Essays which are not included 
in this edition, we here for the convenience of the reader give 
the table of contents of the complete edition. 

Essay I: The Vulgar Notion of Responsibility in Connection 
with the Theories of Free-Will and Necessity 

Essay II: Why Should I Be Moral 

Essay III: Pleasure for Pleasure's Sake 

Essay IV: Duty for Duty's Sake 

Essay V: My Station and Its Duties 

Essay VI : Ideal Morality 

Essay VII: Selfishness and Self-Sacrifice 

Concluding Remarks 

R. G. R. 


VVTHY should I be moral ?^ The question is natural, and yet 
^^ seems strange. It appears to be one we ought to ask, and 
yet we feel, when we ask it, that we are wholly removed from the 
moral point of view. 

To ask the question Why? is rational; for reason teaches us to 
do nothing blindly, nothing without end or aim. She teaches us 
that what is good must be good for something, and that what is 
good for nothing is not good at all. And so we take it as certain 
that there is an end on one side, means on the other; and that 
only if the end is good, and the means conduce to it, have we 
a right to say the means are good. It is rational, then, always 
to inquire. Why should I do it? 

But here the question seems strange. For morality (and she 
too is reason) teaches us that, if we look on her only as good for 
something else, we never in that case have seen her at all. She 
says that she is an end to be desired for her own sake, and not as 
a means to something beyond. Degrade her, and she disappears; 
and to keep her, we must love and not merely use her. And so 
at the question Why? we are in trouble, for that does assume and 
does take for granted that virtue in this sense is unreal, and what 
we believe is false. Both virtue and the asking Why? seem 
rational, and yet incompatible one with the other; and the 
better course will be, not forthwith to reject virtue in favor of the 
question, but rather to inquire concerning the nature of the Why? 

^ Let me observe here that the word "moral" has three meanings, which 
must be throughout these pages distinguished by the context. (1) Moral is 
opposed to nonmoral. The moral world, or world of morality, is opposed 
to the natural world, where morality cannot exist. (2) Within the moral 
world of moral agents, "moral" is opposed to immoral. (3) Again, within 
the moral world, and the moral part of the moral world, "moral" is further 
restricted to the'peisonal side of the moral life and the moral institutions. It 
stands for the inner relation of this or that will to the universal, not to the 
whole, outer and inner, realization of morality. 


4 Ethical Studies 

Why should I be virtuous? Why should I? Could anything 
be more modest? Could anything be less assuming? It is not 
a dogma; it is only a question. And yet a question may contain 
(perhaps must contain) an assumption more or less hidden; or, in 
other words, a dogma. Let us see what is assumed in the asking 
of our question. 

In "Why should I be moral?" the "Why should I?" was another 
way of saying, What good is virtue? or rather. For Avhat is it good? 
and we saw that in asking, Is virtue good as a means, and how so? 
we do assume that virtue is not good, except as a means. The 
dogma at the root of the question is hence clearly either: (1) the 
general statement that only means are good; or (2) the particular 
assertion of this in the case of virtue. 

To explain: the question For what? Whereto? is either uni- 
versally applicable, or not so. It holds everywhere, or we mean 
it to hold only here. Let us suppose, in the first place, that it is 
meant to hold everywhere. 

Then (1) we are taking for granted that nothing is good in 
itself; that only the means to something else are good; that 
"good," in a word, = "good for," and good for something else. 
Such is the general canon by which virtue would have to be 

No one perhaps would explicitly put forward such a canon, 
and yet it may not be waste of time to examine it. 

The good is a means: a means is a means to something else, 
and this is an end. Is the end good? No, if we hold to our 
general canon, it is not good as an end; the good was always good 
for something else, and was a means. To be good, the end must 
be a means, and so on forever in a process which has no limit. 
If we ask now What is good? we must answer, There is nothing 
which is not good, for there is nothing which may not be regarded 
as conducing to something outside itself. Everything is relative 
to something else. And the essence of the good is to exist by 
virtue of something else and something else forever. Everything 
15 something else, is the result which at last we are brought to, if 
we insist on pressing our canon as universally applicable. 

But the above is not needed perhaps; for those who introduced 

Why Should I Be Moral? 5 

the question Why ? did not think of things in general. The good 
for them was not an infinite process of idle distinction. Their 
interest is practical, and they do and must understand by the 
good (which they call a means) some means to an end in itself; 
which latter they assume and unconsciously fix in whatever is 
agreeable to themselves. If we said to them, for example : "Virtue 
is a means, and so is everything besides, and a means to every- 
thing else besides. Virtue is a means to pleasure, pain, health, 
disease, wealth, poverty, and is a good, because a means; and 
so also with pain, poverty, etc. They are all good, because all are 
means. Is this what you mean by the question Why?" They 
would answer No. And they would answer No because some- 
thing has been taken as an end, and therefore good, and has 
been assumed dogmatically. 

The universal application of the question For what? or Whereto? 
is, we see, repudiated. The question does not hold good every- 
where, and we must now consider, secondly, its particular applica- 
tion to virtue. 

(2) Something is here assumed to be the end; and further, 
this is assumed not to be virtue; and thus the question is 
founded, "Is virtue a means to a given end, which end is the 
good? Is virtue good? and why? i.e., as conducing to what 
good is it good?" The dogma A or B or C is a good in itself 
justifies the inquiry, Is D a means to A, B, or C? And it is the 
dogmatic character of the question that we wished to point out. 
Its rationality, put as if universal, is tacitly assumed to end 
with a certain province; and our answer must be this: // your 
formula will not (on your own admission) apply to everything, 
what ground have you for supposing it to apply to virtue? 
"Be virtuous that you may be happy {i.e., pleased)"; then why be 
happy, and not rather virtuous? "The pleasure of all is an end." 
Why all? "Mine." Why mine? Your reply must be that you 
take it to be so and are prepared to argue on the thesis that 
something not virtue is the end in itself. And so are we; and we 
shall try to show that this is erroneous. But even if we fail in that, 
we have, I hope, made it clear that the question Why should I be 
moral? rests on the assertion of an end in itself, which is not 

6 Ethical Studies 

morality ;** and a point of this importance must not be taken for 

It is quite true that to ask Why should I be moral? is ipso facto 
to take one view of morality, is to assume that virtue is a means 
to something not itself. But it is a mistake to suppose that the 
general asking of Why? affords any presumption in favor of, or 
against, any one theory. If any theory could stand upon the What 
for? as a rational formula, which must always hold good and be 
satisfied, then, to that extent, no doubt it would have an advan- 
tage. But we have seen that all doctrines alike must reject the 
What for? and agree in this rejection, if they agree in nothing 
else; since they all must have an end which is not a mere means. 
And if so, is it not foolish to suppose that its giving a reason for 
virtue is any argument in favor of Hedonism, when for its 
own end it can give no reason at all? Is it not clear that, if you 
have any Ethics, you must have an end which is above the Why? 
in the sense of What for?; and that, if this is so, the question 
is now, as it was two thousand years ago, Granted that there is 
an end, what is this end? And the asking that question, as 
reason and history both tell us, is not in itself the presupposing of 
a Hedonistic answer, or any other answer. 

The claim of pleasure to be the end, we are to discuss in 
another paper. But what is clear at first sight is that to take 
virtue as mere means to an ulterior end is in direct antagonism 
to the voice of the moral consciousness. 

That consciousness, when unwarped by selfishness and not 
blinded by sophistry, is convinced that to ask for the Why? is 
simple immorality; to do good for its own sake is virtue, to do it 
for some ulterior end or object, not itself good, is never virtue; 
and never to act but for the sake of an end, other than doing well 
and right, is the mark of vice. And the theory which sees in 
virtue, as in money-getting, a means which is mistaken for an end, 

* "The question itself [Why should I do right?] cannot be put, except in 
a form which assumes that the Utilitarian answer is the only one which can 
possibly be given. . . . The words 'Why should F mean 'What shall I 
get by,' 'What motive have I for' this or that course of conduct?" — F. 
Stephen, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity (2nd ed., London, 1873), p. 361. 

Why Should I Be Moral? 7 

contradicts the voice which proclaims that virtue not only does 
seem to be, but is, an end in itself/ 

'There are two points which we may notice here. (1) There is a view 
which says, "Pleasure (or pain) is what moves you to act; therefore, pleasure 
(or pain) is your motive, and is always the Why? of your actions. You think 
otherwise by virtue of a psychological illusion." For a consideration of this 
view we must refer to Essay VII [omitted in this edition]. We may, how- 
ever, remark in passing, that this view confuses the motive, which is an 
object before the mind, with the psychical stimulus, which is not an object 
before the mind and therefore is not a motive nor a Why? in the sense of 
an end proposed. 

(2) There is a view which tries to found moral philosophy on theology, a 
theology of a somewhat coarse type, consisting mainly in the doctrine of a 
criminal judge, of superhuman knowledge and power, who has promulgated 

and administers a criminal code. This may be called the "do it or be d d" 

theory of morals, and is advocated or timidly suggested by writers nowadays, 
not so much (it seems probable) because in most cases they have a strong, or 
even a weak, belief in it, but because it stops holes in theories which they 
feel, without some help of the kind, will not hold water. We are not 
concerned with this opinion as a theological doctrine, and will merely remark 
that, as such, it appears to us to contain the essence of irreligion; but with 
respect to morals, we say that, let it be never so true, it contributes nothing 
to moral philosophy, unless that has to do with the means whereby we are 
simply to get pleasure or avoid pain. The theory not only confuses morality 
and religion, but reduces them both to deliberate selfishness. Fear of crimi- 
nal proceedings in the other world does not tell us what is morally right in 
this world. It merely gives a selfish motive for obedience to those who 
believe, and leaves those who do not believe, in all cases with less motive, in 
some cases with none. I cannot forbear remarking that, so far as my 
experience goes, where future punishments are firmly believed in, the fear 
of them has, in most cases, but little influence on the mind. And the facts 
do not allow us to consider the fear of punishment in this world as the 
main motive to morality. In most cases there is, properly speaking, no 
ulterior motive. A man is moral because he likes being moral; and he likes 
it, partly because he has been brought up to the habit of liking it, and 
partly because he finds it gives him what he wants, while its opposite does 
not do so. He is not as a rule kept "straight" by the contemplation of evils 
to be inflicted on him from the outside; and the shame he feels at the bad 
opinion of others is not a mere external evil, and is not feared simply as 
such. In short, a man is a human being, something larger than the abstrac- 
tion of an actual or possible criminal. 

8 Ethical Studies 

Taking our stand then, as we hope, on this common conscious- 
ness, what answer can we give when the question Why should I 
be moral? — in the sense of What will it advantage me? — is put 
to us? Here we shall do well, I think, to avoid all praises of the 
pleasantness of virtue. We may believe that it transcends all 
possible delights of vice, but it would be well to remember that 
we desert a moral point of view, that we degrade and prostitute 
virtue, when to those who do not love her for herself we 
bring ourselves to recommend her for the sake of her pleasures. 
Against the base mechanical /Savavma, which meets us on all sides, 
with its "What is the use" of goodness or beauty or truth? there 
is but one fitting answer from the friends of science or art or 
religion and virtue, "We do not know and we do not care." 

As a direct answer to the question we should not say more; 
but, putting ourselves at our questioner's point of view, we may 
ask in return, Why should I be immoral? Is it not disadvan- 
tageous to be so? We can ask, is your view consistent? Does 
it satisfy you and give you what you want? And if you are 
satisfied, and so far as you are satisfied, do see whether it is not 
because, and so far as, you are false to your theory; so far as you 
are living not directly with a view to the pleasant, but with a 
view to something else, or with no view at all, but, as you would 
call it, without any "reason." We believe that, in your heart, your 
end is what ours is, but that about this end you not only are sorely 
misraken, but in your heart you feel and know it ; or at least would 
do so if you would only reflect. And more than this I think we 
ought not to say. 

What more are we to say? If a man asserts total skepticism, 
you cannot argue with him. You can show that he contradicts 
himself; but if he says, "I do not care" — there is an end of it. So, 
too, if a man says, "I shall do what I like because I happen to 
like it; and as for ends, I recognize none" — you may indeed show 
him that his conduct is in fact otherwise; and if he will assert 
anything as an end, if he will but say, "I have no end but myself," 
then you may argue with him and try to prove that he is making 
a mistake as to the nature of the end he alleges. But if he says, 
"I care not whether I am moral or rational, nor how much I con- 

Why Should I Be Moral? 9 

tradict myself," then argument ceases. We who have the power 
believe that what is rational (if it is not yet) at least is to be real, 
and decline to recognize anything else. For standing on reason 
we can give, of course, no further reason; but we push our reason 
against what seems to oppose it, and soon force all to see that 
moral obligations do not vanish where they cease to be felt or are 

Has the question, Why should I be moral? no sense then, 
and is no positive answer possible? No, the question has no 
sense at all; it is simply unmeaning unless it is equivalent to. Is 
morality an end in itself; and if so, how and in what way is it an 
end? Is morality the same as the end for man, so that the two 
are convertible; or is morality one side or aspect or element of 
some end which is larger than itself? Is it the whole end from all 
points of view or is it one view of the whole? Is the artist 
moral, so far as he is a good artist, or the philosopher moral, 
so far as he is a good philosopher? Are their art or science and 
their virtue one thing from one and the same point of view or 
two different things, or one thing from two points of view? 

These are not easy questions to answer, and we cannot discuss 
them yet. We have taken the reader now so far as he need go, 
before proceeding to the following essays. What remains is to 
point out the most general expression for the end in itself, the 
ultimate practical "why"; and that we find in the word self- 
realization. But what follows is an anticipation of the sequel, 
which we cannot promise to make intelligible as yet; and the 
reader who finds difficulties had better go on at once to Essay III 
["Pleasure for Pleasure's Sake"]. 

How can it be proved that self-realization is the end? There 
is only one way to do that. This is to know what we mean 
when we say "self" and "real" and "realize" and "end"; and to 
know that is to have something like a system of metaphysic, and 
to say it would be to exhibit that system. Instead of remarking 
then that we lack space to develop our views, let us frankly 
confess that, properly speaking, we have no such views to develop, 
and therefore we cannot prove our thesis. All that we can do 
is partially to explain it, and try to render it plausible. It is a 

10 Ethical Studies 

formula which our succeeding Essays will in some way fill up, 
and which here we shall attempt to recommend to the reader 

An objection will occur at once. "There surely are ends," it 
will be said, "which are not myself, which fall outside my activity, 
and which, nevertheless, I do realize and think I ought to realize." 
We must try to show that the objection rests upon a misunder- 
standing; and, as a statement of fact, brings with it insuperable 

Let us first go to the moral consciousness and see what that 
tells us about its end. 

Morality implies an end in itself — we take that for granted. 
Something is to be done, a good is to be realized. But that 
result is, by itself, not morality; morality differs from art in that 
it cannot make the act a mere means to the result. Yet there is a 
means. There is not only something to be done, but something 
to be done by me — / must do the act, must realize the end. 
Morality implies both the something to be done and the doing of 
it by me; and if you consider them as end and means, you cannot 
separate the end and the means. If you chose to change the 
position of end and means and say my doing is the end and the 
"to be done" is the means, you would not violate the moral con- 
sciousness; for the truth is that means and end are not applicable 
here. The act for me means my act, and there is no end beyond 
the act. This we see in the belief that failure may be equivalent 
morally to success — in the saying that there is nothing good 
except a good will. In short, for morality the end implies the act, 
and the act implies self-realization. This, if it were doubtful, 
would be shown (we may remark in passing) by the feeling of 
pleasure which attends the putting forth of the act. For if pleasure 
be the feeling of self and accompany the act, this indicates that 
the putting forth of the act is also the putting forth of the self. 

But we must not lay too much stress on the moral conscious- 
ness, for we shall be reminded, perhaps, that not only can it be, 
but, like the miser's consciousness, it frequently has been ex- 
plained; and that both states of mind are illusions generated on 
one and the same principle. 

Why Should I Be Moral? 11 

Let us then dismiss the moral consciousness and not trouble 
ourselves about what we think we ought to do; let us try to show 
that what we do is, perfectly or imperfectly, to realize ourselves, 
and that we cannot possibly do anything else; that all we can 
realize is (accident apart) our ends, or the objects we desire; and 
that all we can desire is, in a word, self. 

This, we think, will be readily admitted by our main psycho- 
logical party. What we wish to avoid is that it should be 
admitted in a form which makes it unmeaning; and of this there 
is perhaps some danger. We do not want the reader to say, "Oh 
yes, of course, relativity of knowledge — everything is a state of 
consciousness," and so dismiss the question. If the reader believes 
that a steam engine, after it is made, is nothing but a state of the 
mind of the person or persons who have made it, or who are 
looking at it, we do not hold what we feel tempted to call such a 
silly doctrine; and would point out to those who do hold it that, 
at all events, the engine is a very different state of mind after it is 
made to what it was before. 

Again, we do not want the reader to say, "Certainly, every 
object or end which I propose to myself is, as such, a mere state 
of my mind — it is a thought in my head, or a state of me ; and so, 
when it becomes real, I become real"; because, though it is very 
true that my thought, as my thought, cannot exist apart from me 
thinking it, and therefore my proposed end must, as such, be a 

* We may remark that the ordinary "philosophical" person who talks about 
"relativity," really does not seem to know what he is saying. He will tell you 
that "all" (or "all we know and can know" — there is no practical diflFerence 
between that and "all") is relative to consciousness — not giving you to under- 
stand that he means thereby any consciotisness beside his own, and ready, I 
should imagine, with his grin at the notion of a mind which is anything more 
than the mind of this or that man; and then, it may be a few pages further 
on or further back, will talk to you of the state of the earth before man 
existed on it. But we wish to know what in the world it all means, and would 
suggest, as a method of clearing the matter, the two questions — (1) Is my 
consciousness something that goes and is beyond myself; and if so, in what 
sense? and (2) Had I a father? What do I mean by that, and how do I 
reconcile my assertion of it with my answer to question (1) ? 

12 Ethical Studies 

state of me,^ yet this is not what we are driving at. All my ends 
are my thoughts, but all my thoughts are not my ends; and if 
what we meant by self-realization was that I have in my head the 
idea of any future external event, then I should realize myself 
practically when I see that the engine is going to run off the line, 
and it does so. 

A desired object (as desired) is a thought, and my thought, but 
it is something more and that something more is, in short, that it 
is desired by me. And we ought by right, before we go further, 
to exhibit a theory of desire; but, if we could do that, we could 
not stop to do it. However, we say with confidence that, in desire, 
what is desired must in all cases be self. 

If we could accept the theory that the end or motive is always 
the idea of a pleasure (or pain) of our own, which is associated 
with the object presented, and which is that in the object which 
moves us, and the only thing which does move us, then from such 
a view it would follow at once that all we can aim at is a state of 

We cannot, however, accept the theory, since we believe it both 
to ignore and to be contrary to facts (see Essay VII) ; but, though 
we do not admit that the motive is always, or in most cases, the 
idea of a state of our feeling self, yet we think it is clear that 
nothing moves unless it be desired and that what is desired is 
ourself. For all objects or ends have been associated with our 
satisfaction, or (more correctly) have been felt in and as our- 
selves, or we have felt ourselves therein; and the only reason why 
they move us now is that when they are presented to our minds 
as motives we do now feel ourselves asserted or affirmed in them. 
The essence of desire for an object would thus be the feeling of 
our affirmation in the idea of something not ourself, felt against the 
feeling of ourself as, without the object, void and negated; and it 
is the tension of this relation which produces motion. If so, then 
nothing is desired except that which is identified with ourselves, and 
we can aim at nothing except so far as we aim at ourselves in it. 

' Let me remark in passing that it does not follow from this that it is 
nothing but a state of me, as this or that man. 

Why Should I Be Moral? 13 

But passing by the above, which we cannot here expound and 
which we lay no stress on, we think that the reader will probably 
go with us so far as this, that in desire what we want, so far as we 
want it, is ourselves in some form, or is some state of ourselves; 
and that our wanting anything else would be psychologically 

Let us take this for granted then; but is this what we mean by 
self-realization? Is the conclusion that, in trying to realize, we 
try to realize some state of ourself, all that we are driving at? 
No, the self we try to realize is for us a whole, it is not a mere 
collection of states. (See more in Essay III.) 

If we may presuppose in the reader a belief in the doctrine that 
what is wanted is a state of self, we wish, standing upon that, to 
urge further that the whole self is present in its states, and that 
therefore the whole self is the object aimed at; and this is what 
we mean by self-realization. If a state of self is what is desired, 
can you, we wish to ask, have states of self which are states of 
nothing (compare Essay I) ; can you possibly succeed in regard- 
ing the self as a collection or stream or train or series or 
aggregate? If you cannot think of it as a mere one, can you on the 
other hand think of it as a mere many, as mere ones; or are you 
not driven, whether you wish it or not, to regard it as a one in 
many, or a many in one? Are we not forced to look on the self 
as a whole which is not merely the sum of its parts, nor yet some 
other particular beside them? And must we not say that to 
realize self is always to realize a whole, and that the question in 
morals is to find the true whole, realizing which will practically 
realize the true self? 

This is the question which to the end of this volume we shall 
find ourselves engaged on. For the present, turning our attention 
away from it in this form, and contenting ourselves with the prop- 
osition that to realize is to realize self, let us now, apart from 
questions of psychology or metaphysics, see what ends they are, 
in fact, which living men do propose to themselves and whether 
these do not take the form of a whole. 

Upon this point there is no need, I think, to dwell at any 

14 Ethical Studies 

length; for it seems clear that if we ask ourselves what it is we 
should most wish for, we find some general wish which would 
include and imply our particular wishes. And if we turn to life 
we see that no man has disconnected particular ends; he looks 
beyond the moment, beyond this or that circumstance or position ; 
his ends are subordinated to wider ends; each situation is seen 
(consciously or unconsciously) as part of a broader situation, and 
in this or that act he is aiming at and realizing some larger whole 
which is not real in any particular act as such, and yet is realized 
in the body of acts which carry it out. We need not stop here 
because the existence of larger ends, which embrace smaller ends, 
cannot be doubted; and so far we may say that the self we 
realize is identified with wholes, or that the ideas of the states 
of self we realize are associated with ideas that stand for wholes. 
But is it also true that these larger wholes are included in one 
whole? I think that it is. I am not forgetting that we act, as a 
rule, not from principle or with the principle before us, and I wish 
the reader not to forget that the principle may be there and may 
be our basis or our goal, without our knowing anything about it. 
And here, of course, I am not saying that it has occurred to every 
one to ask himself whether he aims at a whole, and what that is; 
because considerable reflection is required for this, and the 
amount need not have been reached. Nor again am I saying that 
every man's actions are consistent, that he does not wander 
from his end, and that he has not particular ends which will not 
come under his main end. Nor further do I assert that the life of 
every man does form a whole; that in some men there are not 
coordinated ends which are incompatible and incapable of sub- 
ordination into a system." What I am saying is that if the life 
of the normal man be inspected and the ends he has in view (as 
exhibited in his acts) be considered, they will, roughly speaking, 
be embraced in one main end or whole of ends. It has been said 
that "every man has a different notion of happiness," but this is 
scarcely correct unless mere detail be referred to. Certainly, 

' The unhappiness of such lives in general, however, points to the fact that 
the real end is a whole. Dissatisfaction rises from the knowing or feeling 
that the self is not realized, and not realized because not realized as a system. 

Why Should I Be Moral? 15 

however, every man has a notion of happiness, and his notion, 
though he may not quite know what it is. Most men have a life 
which they live and with which they are tolerably satisfied, and 
that life, when examined, is seen to be fairly systematic; it is seen 
to be a sphere including spheres, the lower spheres subordinating 
to themselves and qualifying particular actions, and themselves 
subordinated to and qualified by the whole. And most men 
have more or less of an ideal of life — a notion of perfect happi- 
ness which is never quite attained in real life; and if you take 
(not of course any one, but) the normal decent and serious man, 
when he has been long enough in the world to know what he 
wants, you will find that his notion of perfect happiness or ideal 
life is not something straggling, as it were, and discontinuous, but 
is brought before the mind as an unity, and, if imagined more in 
detail, is a system where particulars subserve one whole. 

Without further dwelling on this I will ask the reader to 
reflect whether the ends, proposed to themselves by ordinary 
persons, are not wholes, and are not in the end members in a 
larger whole; and if that be so, whether, since it is so, and since 
all we can want must (as before stated) be ourselves, we must not 
now say that we aim not only at the realization of self, but of self 
as a whole, seeing that there is a general object of desire with 
which self is identified, or (on another view) with the idea of 
which the idea of our pleasure is associated. 

Up to the present we have been trying to point out that what 
we aim at is self, and self as a whole; in other words, that self as 
a whole is in the end the content of our wills. It will still further, 
perhaps, tend to clear the matter if we refer to the form of the 
will — not, of course, suggesting that the form is anything real 
apart from the content. 

On this head we are obliged to restrict ourselves to the assertion 
of what we believe to be fact. We remarked in our last Essay [I] 
that, in saying "I will this or that," we really mean something. In 
saying it we do not mean (at least, not as a rule) to distinguish 
a self that wills from a self that does not will; but what we do 
mean is to distinguish the self, as will in general, from this or that 
object of desire, and, at the same time, to identify the two; to say. 

16 Ethical Studies 

this or that is willed, or the will has uttered itself in this or that. 
The will is looked on as a whole, and there are two sides or fac- 
tors to that whole. Let us consider an act of will and, that we 
may see more clearly, let us take a deliberate volitional choice. 
We have conflicting desires, say A and B; we feel two tensions, 
two drawings (so to speak), but we cannot actually affirm ourselves 
in both. Action does not follow, and we reflect on the two objects 
of desire and we are aware that we are reflecting on them, or (if 
our language allowed us to say it) over them. But we do not 
merely stand looking on till, so to speak, we find we are gone in 
one direction, have closed with A or B. For we are aware besides 
of ourselves, not simply as something theoretically above A and 
B, but as something also practically above them, as a concentration 
which is not one or the other, but which is the possibility of either, 
which is the inner side indifferently of an act which should realize 
A, or one which should realize B, and hence, which is neither, 
and yet is superior to both. In short, we do not simply feel our- 
selves in A and B, but have distinguished ourselves from both, as 
what is above both. This is one factor in volition and it is hard 
to find any name better for it than that of the universal factor, or 
side, or moment.' We need say much less about the second fac- 
tor. In order to will, we must will something; the universal side 
by itself is not will at all. To will we must identify ourselves with 
this, that, or the other; and here we have the particular side, and 

' As we saw in our last Essay [I], there are two dangers to avoid here, in 
the shape of two one-sided views, Scylla and Cheirybdis. The first is the 
ignoring of the universal side altogether, even as an element; the second is 
the assertion of it as more than an element, as by itself will. Against this 
second it is necessary to insist that the will is what it wills, that to will 
you must will something, and that you cannot will the mere form of the will; 
further, that the mere formal freedom of choice not only, if it were real, 
would not be true freedom, but that, in addition, it is a metaphysical fiction; 
that the universal is real only as one side of the whole and takes its character 
from the whole; and that, in the most deliberate and would-be formal 
volition, the self that is abstracted and stands above the particulars is the 
abstraction not only from the particular desire or desires before the mind, 
but also from the whole self, the self which embodies all past acts, and that 
the abstraction is determined by that from which it is abstracted, no less 
than itself is a moment in the determination of the concrete act. 

Why Should I Be Moral? 17 

the second factor in volition. Thirdly, the volition as a whole 
(and first, as a whole, is it volition) is the identity of both these 
factors, and the projection or carrying of it out into external 
existence; the realization both of the particular side, the this 
or that to be done, and the realization of the inner side of 
self in the doing of it, with a realization of self in both, as 
is proclaimed by the feeling of pleasure. This unity of the two 
factors we may call the individual whole, or again the concrete 
universal; and, although we are seldom conscious of the distinct 
factors, yet every act of will will be seen, when analyzed, to be a 
whole of this kind, and so to realize what is always the nature 
of the will. 

But to what end have we made this statement? Our object has 
been to draw the attention of the reader to the fact that not only 
what is willed by men, the end they set before themselves, is a 
whole, but also that the will itself, looked at apart from any par- 
ticular object or content, is a similar whole; or, to put it in its 
proper order, the self is realized in a whole of ends because it is 
a whole, and because it is not satisfied till it has found itself, till 
content be adequate to form, and that content be realized; and 
this is what we mean by practical self-realization. 

"Realize yourself," "realize yourself as a whole," is the result of 
the foregoing. The reader, I fear, may be wearied already by 
these prefatory remarks, but it will be better in the end if we delay 
yet longer. All we know at present is that we are to realize self 
as a whole; but as to what whole it is, we know nothing and must 
further consider. 

The end we desire (to repeat it) is the finding and possessing 
ourselves as a whole. We aim at this both in theory and prac- 
tice. What we want in theory is to understand the object; we 
want neither to remove nor alter the world of sensuous fact, but 
we want to get at the truth of it. The whole of science takes it 
for granted that the "not-ourself" is really intelligible; it stands 
and falls with this assumption. So long as our theory strikes on 
the mind as strange and alien, so long do we say we have not 
found truth; we feel the impulse to go beyond and beyond, we 
alter and alter our views till we see them as a consistent whole. 

18 Ethical Studies 

There we rest because then we have found the nature of our own 
mind and the truth of facts in one. And in practice again, with 
a difference, we have the same want. Here our aim is not, leav- 
ing the given as it is, to find the truth of it; but here we want to 
force the sensuous fact to correspond to the truth of ourselves. 
We say, "My sensuous existence is thus, but I truly am not thus; 
I am different." On the one hand, as a matter of fact, I and my 
existing world are discrepant; on the other hand, the instinct of 
my nature tells me that the world is mine. On that impulse I 
act, I alter and alter the sensuous facts till I find in them 
nothing but myself carried out. Then I possess my world, and I 
do not possess it until I find my will in it; and I do not find 
that until what I have is a harmony or a whole in system. 

Both in theory and practice my end is to realize myself as a 
whole. But is this all? Is a consistent view all that we want in 
theory? Is a harmonious life all that we want in practice? 
Certainly not. A doctrine must not only hold together, but it 
must hold the facts together as well. We cannot rest in it simply 
because it does not contradict itself. The theory must take in the 
facts, and an ultimate theory must take in all the facts. So again 
in practice. It is no human ideal to lead "the life of an oyster." 
We have no right first to find out just what we happen to be and 
to have, and then to contract our wants to that limit. We cannot 
do it if we would, and morality calls to us that, if we try to do it, we 
are false to ourselves. Against the sensuous facts around us and 
within us we must forever attempt to widen our empire; we must 
at least try to go forward or we shall certainly be driven back. 

So self-realization means more than the mere assertion of the 
self as a whole.® And here we may refer to two principles which 
Kant put forward under the names of "Homogeneity" and "Speci- 
fication." Not troubling ourselves with our relation to Kant, we 
may say that the ideal is neither to be perfectly homogeneous nor 
simply to be specified to the last degree, but rather to combine 

* I leave out of sight the important question whether any partial whole 
can be self-consistent. If (which seems the better view) this cannot be, we 
shall not need to say "Systematize and widen," but the second will be 
implied in the first. 

Why Should I Be Moral? 19 

both these elements. Our true being is not the extreme of unity, 
nor of diversity, but the perfect identity of both. And "Realize 
yourself" does not mean merely "Be a whole," but "Be an infinite 

At this word I am afraid the reader who has not yet despaired 
of us will come to a stop and refuse to enter into the region of 
nonsense. But why should it be nonsense? When the poet and 
the preacher tell us the mind is infinite, most of us feel that it is 
so; and has our science really come to this that the beliefs which 
answer to our highest feelings must be theoretical absurdities? 
Should not the philosophy which tells us such a thing be very 
sure of the ground it goes upon? But if the reader will follow 
me I think I can show him that the mere finitude of the mind is 
a more difficult thesis to support than its infinity. 

It would be well if I could ask the reader to tell me what he 
means by "finite." As that cannot be I must say that finite is 
limited or ended. To be finite is to be some one among others, 
some one which is not others. One finite ends where the other 
finite begins; it is bounded from the outside, and cannot go 
beyond itself without becoming something else, and thereby 

"The mind," we are told, "is finite; and the reason why we say 
it is finite is that we know it is finite. The mind knows that itself 
is finite." This is the doctrine we have to oppose. 

We answer, The mind is not finite just because it knows it is 
finite. "The knowledge of the limit suppresses the limit." It is 
a flagrant self-contradiction that the finite should know its own 
finitude; and it is not hard to make this plain. 

Finite means limited from the outside and by the outside. The 
finite is to know itself as this, or not as finite. If its knowledge 
ceases to fall wholly within itself, then so far it is not finite. It 
knows that it is limited from the outside and by the outside, and 
that means it knows the outside. But if so, then it is so far not 
finite. If its whole being fell within itself, then in knowing 

* We have to dwell on the inherent contradiction of the finite. Its 
being is to fall wholly within itself; and yet, so far as it is finite, so far is 
it determined wholly by the outside. 

20 Ethical Studies 

itself it could not know that there was anything outside itself. 
It does do the latter; hence the former supposition is false. 

Imagine a man shut up in a room, who said to us, "My facul- 
ties are entirely confined to the inside of this room. The limit of 
the room is the limit of my mind and so I can have no knowledge 
whatever of the outside" ; should we not answer, "My dear sir, you 
contradict yourself. If it were as you say, you could not know of 
an outside, and so, by consequence, not of an inside, as such. You 
should be in earnest and go through with your doctrine of 
'relativity.' " 

To the above simple argument I fear we may not have done 
justice. However that be, I know of no answer to it; and until 
we find one, we must say that it is not true that the mind is finite. 

If I am to realize myself it must be as infinite; and now the 
question is, What does infinite mean? and it will be better to say 
first what it does not mean. There are two wrong views on the 
subject, which we will take one at a time. 

(1) Infinite is not-finite, and that means "end-less." What 
does endless mean? Not the mere negation of end, because a 
mere negation is nothing at all, and infinite would thus = 0. The 
endless is something positive; it means a positive quantity which 
has no end. Any given number of units is finite, but a series of 
units which is produced indefinitely is infinite. This is the sense 
of infinite which is in most common use, and which, we shall see, 
is what Hedonism believes in. It is however clear that this 
infinite is a perpetual self-contradiction and, so far as it is real, 
is only finite. Any real quantity has ends beyond which it does 
not go. "Increase the quantity" merely says, "Put the end further 
off"; but in saying that, it does say "Put the end." "Increase 
the quantity forever" means, "Have forever a finite quantity, and 
forever say that it is not finite." In other words, "Remove the 
end" does imply, by that very removal and the production of the 
series, the making of a fresh end; so that we still have a finite 
quantity. Here, so far as the infinite exists, it is finite; so far as 
it is told to exist, it is told again to be nothing but finite. 

(2) Or, secondly, the infinite is not the finite, no longer in the 
sense of being more in quantity, but in the sense of being some- 

Why Should I Be Moral? 21 

thing else which is different in quality. The infinite is not in the 
world of limited things; it exists in a sphere of its own. The 
mind (e. g.) is something beside the aggregate of its states. God is 
something beside the things of this world. This is the infinite 
believed in by abstract Duty. But here once more, against its 
will, infinite comes to mean merely finite. The infinite is a some- 
thing over against, beside, and outside the finite; and hence 
is itself also finite, because limited by something else. 

In neither of these two senses is the mind infinite. What then 
is the true sense of infinite? As before, it is the negation of the 
finite; it is not-finite. But, unlike both the false infinites, it does 
not leave the finite as it is. It neither, with (1) , says "the finite 15 
to be not-finite," nor, with (2) , tries to get rid of it by doubling it. 
It does really negate the finite so that the finite disappears, not 
by having a negative set over against it, but by being taken up 
into a higher unity in which, becoming an element, it ceases to 
have its original character and is both suppressed and preserved. 
The infinite is thus "the unity of the finite and infinite." The finite 
was determined from the outside, so that everywhere to char- 
acterize and distinguish it was in fact to divide it. Wherever 
you defined anything you were at once carried beyond to some- 
thing else and something else, and this because the negative, 
required for distinction, was an outside other. In the infinite 
you can distinguish without dividing; for this is an imity holding 
within itself subordinated factors which are negative of, and so 
distinguishable from, each other; while at the same time the 
whole is so present in each that each has its own being in its 
opposite, and depends on that relation for its own life. The 
negative is also its aflSrmation. Thus the infinite has a distinc- 
tion, and so a negation, in itself, but is distinct from and negated 
by nothing but itself. Far from being one something which is 
not another something, it is a whole in which both one and 
the other are mere elements. This whole is hence "relative" 
utterly and through and through, but the relation does not fall 
outside it; the relatives are moments in which it is the relation of 
itself to itself, and so is above the relation, and is absolute reality. 
The finite is relative to something else; the infinite is 5e//-related. 

22 Ethical Studies 

It is this sort of infinite which the mind is. The simplest symbol 
of it is the circle, the line which returns into itself, not the straight 
line produced indefinitely; and the readiest way to find it is to 
consider the satisfaction of desire. There we have myself and 
its opposite, and the return from the opposite, the finding in the 
other nothing but self. And here it would be well to recall what 
we said above on the form of the will. 

If the reader to whom this account of the infinite is new has 
found it in any way intelligible, I think he will see that there is 
some sense in it when we say, "Realize yourself as an infinite 
whole"; or, in other words, "Be specified in yourself, but not 
specified by anything foreign to yourself." 

But the objection comes: "Morality tells us to progress; it 
tells us we are not concluded in ourselves nor perfect, but that 
there exists a not-ourself which never does wholly become ourself. 
And apart from morality, it is obvious that I and you, this man 
and the other man, are finite beings. We are not one another; 
more or less we must limit each other's sphere; I am what I am 
more or less by external relations, and I do not fall wholly within 
myself. Thus I am to be infinite, to have no limit from the out- 
side; and yet I am one among others, and therefore am finite. 
It is all very well to tell me that in me there is infinity, the 
perfect identity of subject and object — that I may be willing 
perhaps to believe, but nonetheless I am finite." 

We admit the full force of the objection. I am finite; I am 
both infinite and finite and that is why my moral life is a perpetual 
progress. I must progress because I have an other which is to be, 
and yet never quite is, myself; and so, as I am, am in a state of 

It is not that I wish to increase the mere quantity of my true 
self. It is that I wish to be nothing but my true self, to be rid of 
all external relations, to bring them all within me, and so to fall 
wholly within myself. 

I am to be perfectly homogeneous; but I cannot be unless 
fully specified, and the question is. How can I be extended so 
as to take in my external relations ? Goethe has said, "Be a whole 

Why Should I Be Moral? 23 

or join a whole,"^" but to that we must answer, "You cannot be a 
whole, unless you join a whole." 

The difficulty is: being limited and so not a whole, how extend 
myself so as to be a whole? The answer is, be a member in a 
whole. Here your private self, your finitude, ceases as such to 
exist; it becomes the function of an organism. You must be, not 
a mere piece of, but a member in, a whole, and as this must know 
and will yourself. 

The whole to which you belong specifies itself in the detail of 
its functions, and yet remains homogeneous. It lives not many 
lives but one life, and yet cannot live except in its many members. 
Just so, each one of the members is alive, but not apart from the 
whole which lives in it. The organism is homogeneous because it 
is specified, and specified because it is homogeneous. 

"But," it will be said, "what is that to me? I remain one 
member, and I am not other members. The more perfect the 
organism, the more is it specified, and so much the intenser 
becomes its homogeneity. But its 'more' means my 'less.' The 
unity falls in the whole and so outside me ; and the greater specifi- 
cation of the whole means the making me more special, more 
narrowed and limited, and less developed within myself." 

We answer that this leaves out of sight a fact quite palpable and 
of enormous significance, viz., that in the moral organism the 
members are aware of themselves, and aware of themselves as 
members. I do not know myself as mere this, against something 
else which is not myself. The relations of the others to me are 
not mere external relations. I know myself as a member; that 
means I am aware of my own function; but it means also that I 
am aware of the whole as specifying itself in me. The will of the 
whole knowingly wills itself in me; the will of the whole is the 
will of the members, and so, in willing my own function, I do 
know that the others will themselves in me. I do know again that 
I will myself in the others, and in them find my will once more as 

^° "Immer strebe zum Ganzen, und kannst du selber kein Ganzes 
Werden, als dienendes Glied schliess' an ein Ganzes dich an.** 

— Vier Jahreszeiten, 45. 

24 Ethical Studies 

not mine, and yet as mine. It is false that the homogeneity falls 
outside me; it is not only in me, but for me too; and apart from 
my life in it, my knowledge of it, and devotion to it, I am not 
myself. When it goes out my heart goes out with it, where it 
triumphs I rejoice, where it is maimed I suffer; separate me from 
the love of it and I perish. (See further. Essay V.) 

No doubt the distinction of separate selves remains, but the point 
is this. In morality the existence of my mere private self, as such, 
is something which ought not to be, and which, so far as I am 
moral, has already ceased. I am morally realized, not until my 
personal self has utterly ceased to be my exclusive self, is no more 
a will which is outside others' wills, but finds in the world of 
others nothing but self. 

"Realize yourself as an infinite whole" means "Realize your- 
self as the self-conscious member of an infinite whole, by realizing 
that whole in yourself." When that whole is truly infinite, and 
when your personal will is wholly made one with it, then you also 
have reached the extreme of homogeneity and specification in 
one, and have attained a perfect self-realization. 

The foregoing will, we hope, become clear to the reader of this 
volume. He must consider what has been said so far as the text, 
which the sequel is to illustrate and work out in detail. Mean- 
while, our aim has been to put forward the formula of self-realiza- 
tion and in some measure to explain it. The following Essays 
will furnish, we hope, something like a commentary and justifica- 
tion. We shall see that the self to be realized is not the self as a 
collection of particulars, is not the universal as all the states of a 
certain feeling; and that it is not again an abstract universal, as 
the form of duty; that neither are in harmony with life, with the 
moral consciousness, or with themselves; that when the self is 
identified with, and wills, and realizes a concrete universal, a 
real totality, then first does it find itself, is satisfied, self-deter- 
mined, and free — "the free will that wills itself as the free will." 

Let us resume, then, the results of the present Essay. We have 
attempted to show (1) that the formula of "what for?" must be 
rejected by every ethical doctrine as not universally valid; and 
that hence no one theory can gain the smallest advantage (except 

Why Should I Be Moral? 25 

over the foolish) by putting it forward; that now for us (as it was 
for Hellas) the main question is, There being some end, what is 
that end? And (2), with which second part, if it fall, the first 
need not fall, we have endeavored briefly to point out that the 
final end with which morality is identified, or under which it is 
included, can be expressed not otherwise than by self-realization. 


Perhaps the following remarks, though partly repetition of the 
above, may be of service. 

There being an end, that end is realization, at all events; it is 
something to be reached, otherwise not an end. 

And it implies self-realization, because it is to be reached by 
me. By my action I am to carry it out; in making it real my 
will is realized, and my will is myself. Hence there is self-realiza- 
tion in all action; witness the feeling of pleasure. 

"Yes," it will be said, "but that does not show there is nothing 
but self-realization. The content of the act is not the self but 
may be something else, and this something else may be the end. 
The content is the end." 

This is very easy to say but it overlooks the psychological 
difl&culties. How is it possible to will what is not one's self, how 
can one desire a foreign object? What we desire must be in our 
minds; we must think of it; and besides, we must be related to it 
in a particular way. If it is to be the end, we must feel ourselves 
one with it, and in it; and how can we do that if it does not 
belong to us and has not been made part of us? To say 
"thoughts of what is and is to be exist in you, are in your head, 
and then you carry them out, and that is action" is futile ; because 
these thoughts, if desired, are not merely in me, they are felt to 
be mine, ideally to be myself, and, when they are carried out, 
that therefore is self-realization. 

Or shall we be told that "to talk of carrying out is nonsense. 
In action we produce changes in things and in ourselves, answer- 
ing to thoughts; things resemble thoughts, but, strictly speaking. 

26 Ethical Studies 

thought is not realized, because that is unmeaning"? If we hold 
to this, however, we are met by the impossibility then of account- 
ing for thought and action as ordinarily viewed; we should 
know not the real, but something like the real, and should do not 
what we mean, intend, have in our minds, but only something 
like it. But this, unfortunately, is not action. If I do not what 
I will, but only something like it, then, strictly speaking, so far it 
is not my act and would not be imputed to me. An act supposes 
the content on each side to be the same, with a difference, or, 
under a difference, to be the same. It does suppose that 
what was in the mind is carried out; and, unless you think that 
something can be in the self and carried out by the self, without 
being of the nature of the self (and you would find the difficulties 
of such .a view insuperable), then you must say that volition is 

But doubtless there are many persons who, not raising meta- 
physical or psychological questions but standing merely on facts, 
would say, "Theory apart, surely when I act I do realize more than 
myself. I quite see that I may not do so; but when I devote 
myself to a cause, and at my own expense help to carry it out, 
how then am I realizing only myself?" 

The difficulty no doubt is very serious and we cannot pretend 
here to go to the bottom of it. But we may point out that it 
arises from a preconception as to the self (i. e., the identification 
of it with the particular self) which cannot be defended. It is 
clear that, on the one side, selves do exclude one another. I am 
not you, you are not he; and, resting on this notion of exclusive- 
ness, we go on to look at the self as a repellent point, or, as we call 
it, a mere individual. But, apart from metaphysics, facts soon 
compel us to see that this is not a reality, but an abstraction of our 
minds. For, without troubling ourselves about the relation of one 
person to others, as soon as we imagine this mere "individual" 
acting, we see he must bring forth something, and, to do that, must 
have something in him, must have a content; and, if so, is not any 
longer a bare point which we now perceive to be a mere form. 
Hence we now try to give him a content which falls wholly within 
himself and is not common to him with others, and, finding it im- 

Why Should I Be Moral? 27 

possible to account for facts on this supposition, suddenly we turn 
round and fly to the other extreme, and now suppose him to 
realize the sheer suppression of himself: not seeing that now we 
have abjured our premises without having refuted them, and are 
face to face with the psychological difficulty of how a man is to 
bring out of himself what was not in himself and part of himself, 
and with the facts which testify that action without interest is a 

But if from a better metaphysic, or attention to facts, we are 
willing to give up those metaphysical preconceptions we took for 
fact and now see to be futile, then we may also see that, 
though certainly one person cannot be, "like Cerberus, three 
gentlemen at once," yet that, beside being thus exclusive, nonethe- 
less in respect of their content (and that makes them what they 
are) persons are not thus exclusive; that I am what I will and 
will what I am, that the content qualifies me, and that there is no 
reason in the world why that content should be confined to the 
"this me." In the case of a social being this is impossible; and 
to point out any human being in whom his exclusive self is the 
whole content of his will, is out of the question. But, if so, where 
is the difficulty of my object being one and the same with the 
object of other people; so that, having filled the form of my 
personality with a life not merely mine, I have at heart, and have 
identified with and made one with myself, objective interests, 
things that are to be, and in and with the existence of which I am 
not to satisfy my mere private self; so that, as I neither will nor 
can separate myself from what makes me myself, in realizing them 
I realize myself, and can do so only by realizing them? (We 
shall come on this again — see especially Essay VII.) 

Well then, just as we must accept the teaching that "all is 
relative to self," but supplement and correct it with the teaching 
that "myself also is relative"; so we must accept the teaching of 
the selfish theory that I can will myself only, but correct it by the 
addition "and yet the self which is myself, which is mine, is not 
merely me." Hence that all willing is self-realization is seen not 
to be in collision with morality. 

To conclude — If I am asked why I am to be moral I can say 

28 Ethical Studies 

no more than this, that what I cannot doubt is my own being 
now, and that since in that being is involved a self, which is to be 
here and now, and yet in this here and now is not, I therefore 
cannot doubt that there is an end which I am to make real; and 
morality, if not equivalent to, is at all events included in this 
making real of myself. 

If it is absurd to ask for the further reason of my knowing 
and willing my own existence, then it is equally absurd to ask 
for the further reason of what is involved therein. The only 
rational question here is not Why? but What? What is the self 
that I know and will? What is its true nature, and what is 
implied therein? What is the self that I am to make actual, and 
how is the principle present, living, and incarnate in its particular 
modes of realization? 


TT is an old story, a theme too worn for the turning of sentences, 
and yet too living a moral not to find every day a new 
point and to break a fresh heart, that our lives are wasted in the 
pursuit of the impalpable, the search for the impossible and the 
unmeaning. Neither today nor yesterday, but throughout the 
whole life of the race, the complaint has gone forth that all is 
vanity; that the ends for which we live and we die are "mere 
ideas," illusions begotten on the brain by the wish of the heart — 
poor phrases that stir the blood, until experience or reflection for 
a little, and death for all time, bring with it disenchantment and 
quiet. Duty for duty's sake, life for an end beyond sense, honor, 
and beauty, and love for the invisible — all these are first felt, and 
then seen to be dream and shadow and unreal vision. And our 
cry and our desire is for something that will satisfy us, something 
that we know and do not only think, something that is real and 
solid, that we can lay hold of and be sure of and that will not 
change in our hands. We have said good-by to our transcendent 
longings, we have bidden a sad but an eternal farewell to the 
hopes of our own and of the world's too credulous youth ; we have 
parted forever from our early loves, from our fancies and aspira- 
tions beyond the human. We seek for the tangible and we find 
it in this world; for the knowledge which can never deceive, and 
that is the certainty of our own well-being; we seek for the 
palpable, and we feel it; for the end which will satisfy us as men, 
and we find it, in a word, in happiness. 

Happiness! Is that climax, or pathos, or cruel irony? Hap- 
piness is the end? Yes, happiness is the end which indeed we 
all reach after; for what more can we wish than that all should be 
well with us — ^that our wants should be filled and the desire of 
our hearts be gratified? And happiness cannot escape us, we 
must know it when we find it? Oh yes, it would be strange 
indeed to come to such a consummation and never to know it. 
And happiness is real and palpable, and we can find it by seeking 


30 Ethical Studies 

it? Alas! the one question which no one can answer is, What 
is happiness? — which everyone in the end can answer is, what 
happiness is not. It has been called by every name among men, 
and has been sought on the heights and in the depths; it has 
been wooed in all the shapes on earth and in heaven, and what 
man has won it? Its name is a proverb for the visionary object 
of a universal and a fruitless search; of all the delusions which 
make a sport of our lives it is not one, but is one common title 
which covers and includes them all, which shows behind each in 
turn, but to vanish and appear behind another. The man who 
says that happiness is his mark, aims at nothing apart from the 
ends of others. He seeks the illusory goal of all men; and he 
differs from the rest that are and have been not at all, or only in 
his assertion that happiness is to be found by seeking it. 

"But happiness," will be the reply, "is vague because it has been 
made so — is impalpable because projected beyond the solid world 
into the region of cloud and fiction — is visionary because diverted 
from its object, and used as a name for visions. Such ends are 
not happiness. But there is an end which men can seek and do 
find, which never deceives, which is real and tangible and felt to 
be happiness — and that end is pleasure. Pleasure is something 
we can be sure of, for it dwells not we know not where, but here 
in ourselves. It is found, and it can be found; it is the end for 
man and for beast, the one thing worth living for, the one thing 
they do live for and do really desire, and the only thing they ought 
to set before them. This is real, because we feel and know it to be 
real; and solely by partaking, or seeming to partake, in its reality 
do other ends pass for, and impose on the world as happiness." 

We said that to answer the question, what happiness is, has 
been thought impossible; that there are few who, in the end, are 
unable to say what happiness is not. And if there be any one 
thing which well-nigh the whole voice of the world, from all 
ages, nations, and sorts of men, has agreed to declare is not hap- 
piness, that thing is pleasure and the search for it. Not in the 
school alone but round us in life, we see that to identify in the 
beginning pleasure and happiness leads in the end to the confes- 
sion that there "is nothing in it, evSaijxoviav oAws aSvvarov elvai. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 31 

The "pursuit of pleasure" is a phrase which calls for a smile or a 
sigh, since the world has learned that, if pleasure is the end, it is 
an end which must not be made one, and is found there most 
where it is not sought. If to find pleasure is the end and science 
is the means, then indeed we must say 

Die hohe Kraft 

Der Wissenschaft, 

Der ganzen Welt verborgen! 

Und wer nicht denkt, 

Dem wird sie geschenkt, 

Er hat sie ohne Sorgen/ 

Common opinion repeats its old song that the search for pleas- 
ure is the coarsest form of vulgar delusion, that if you want to be 
happy in the sense of pleased you must not think of pleasure, 
but, taking up some accredited form of living, must make that ^ 
your end, and in that case, with moderately good fortune, you will 
be happy; if you are not, then it must be your own fault; but that, 
if you go further, you are like to fare worse. You had better not 
try elsewhere, or, at least, not for pleasure elsewhere. 

So far the weight of popular experience bears heavily against 
the practicability of Hedonism. But Hedonism, we shall be told, 
does not of necessity mean the search by the individual for the 
pleasure of the individual. It is to such selfish pleasure-seeking 
alone that the proverbial condemnation of Hedonism applies. 
The end for modern Utilitarianism is not the pleasure of one, but /^ 
the pleasure of all, the maximum of pleasurable, and minimum of 
painful, feeling in all sentient organisms, and not in my sentient 
organism; and against the possibility of realizing such an end 
common opinion has nothing to say. This we admit to be true, 
but in this shape the question has never fairly come before the 
popular mind; and it would be well to remember that if the indi- 
vidual, when he seeks pleasure, fails in his individual aim, such a ^ 

"^ Thus rendered in Mr. C. Kegan Paul's version of Faust: 

The highest might But whosoe'er 

Of science quite Expends no care, 

Is from the world concealed! To him it is revealed. 

32 Ethical Studies 

fact ought at least to inspire us with some doubt whether, when 
mankind seek the pleasure of the sentient world, that end be so 
much more real and tangible. 

Opinion, then, as the result of popular experience so far as it 
has touched on the question, would appear to be against the prac- 
ticability of Hedonism. Still vulgar opinion must not count 
against philosophical theory, though it certainly may against the 
still more vulgar preconception as to the reality and palpable 
character of pleasure. 

But Hedonism, we must remember, does not assert itself 
simply as a theory which can be worked. It puts itself forward as 
moral, as the one and only possible account of morality. The 
fact is the moral world. Hedonism is the supposed explanation; 
and if we find that non-theoretical persons, who have direct cog- 
nizance of the fact, with but few exceptions reject the explanation, 
that ought to have great weight with us. And the case stands 
thus undeniably. When moral persons without a theory on the 
matter are told that the moral end for the individual and the race 
is the getting a maximum surplusage of pleasurable feeling, and 
that there is nothing in the whole world which has the smallest 
moral value except this end and the means to it, there is no gain- 
saying that they repudiate such a result. They feel that there are 
things "we should choose even if no pleasure came from them"; 
and that if we choose these things, being good, for ourselves, then 
we must choose them also for the race, if we care for the race as 
we do for ourselves. We may be told, indeed, that a vulgar 
objection of this sort is founded on a misunderstanding, and to 
this we shall have to recur ; but for the present we prefer to believe 
that never, except on a misunderstanding, has the moral con- 
sciousness in any case acquiesced in Hedonism. And we must 
say, I think, that supposing it possible that Hedonism could be 
worked, yet common moral opinion is decided against its being, 
what it professes to be, a suflBcient account of morals. 

For morality and religion believe in some end for the man and 
for the race to be worked out; some idea to be realized in man- 
kind and in the individual, and to be realized even though it 
should not be compatible with the minimum of pain and maximum 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 33 

of pleasure in human souls and bodies, to say nothing at all about 
other sentient organisms. The end for our morality and our 
religion is an idea (or call it what you will), which is thought of 
both as the moving principle and final aim of human progress, and 
that idea (whatever else it may be, or may not be) most certainly 
is not the mere idea of an increase of pleasure and a diminution 
of pain. What we represent to ourselves as the goal of our being 
we must take as a law for the guidance alike both of this and that 
man, and of the race as a whole; and if you do not use the vague 
phrase "happiness," but say fairly and nakedly that you mean 
"feeling pleased as much as possible and as long as possible," 
then you cannot, I think, bring the Hedonistic end before the 
moral consciousness without a sharp collision. 

Now I am not saying that what is commonly believed must be 
true. I am perfectly ready to consider the possibility of the ordi- 
nary moral creed being a mistaken one; but the point which I 
wish to emphasize is this: The fact is the moral world, both on its 
external side of the family, society, and the State, and the work of 
the individual in them, and again, on its internal side of moral 
feeling and belief. The theory which will account for and justify 
these facts as a whole is the true moral theory; and any theory 
which cannot account for these facts may in some other way, 
perhaps, be a very good and correct theory, but it is not a moral 
theory. Supposing every other ethical theory to be false, it does 
not follow that therefore Hedonism is a true ethical theory. It does 
not follow because it has refuted its "intuitive moralists" (or what 
not?) that therefore it accounts for the facts of the moral con- 
sciousness. Admitted that it is workable, it has still to be proved 
moral — moral in the sense of explaining, not explaining away 
morality. And it can be proved moral by the refuting of some other 
theory, only on the strength of two assumptions. The first is that 
there must be some existing theory which is a sufi5cient account 
of morals, and that is an unproved assumption; the second is 
that the disjunction, that the "either — or" of "intuitive" and "utili- 
tarian" is complete and exhaustive, and that is a false assumption.' 

" "Whoever would disprove the theory which makes utility our guide must 
produce another principle that were a surer and better guide. 

34 Ethical Studies 

At the cost of repetition, and perhaps of wearisomeness, I must 
dwell a little longer on the ordinary consciousness. There are 
times indeed when we feel that increase of progress means in- 
crease of pleasure and that it is hard to consider them apart. 
I do not mean those moments (if there are such) when the music- 
hall theory of life seems real to us, but the hours (and there must 
be such) when advance in goodness and knowledge, and in the 
pleasure of them, have been so intermingled together, and brought 
home as one to our minds (in our own case or in that of others), 
that we feel it impossible to choose one and not also choose the 
other. And there doubtless are hours again, when all that is called 
progress seems so futile and disappointing that we bitterly feel 
"increase of knowledge" is indeed "increase of sorrow," and that 
he who thinks least is happiest; when we envy the beasts their lives 
without a past or a future, their heedless joys and easily forgotten 
griefs; and when for ourselves, and if for ourselves then for 
others, we could wish to cease or be as they are "vo/i allem 
Wissensqualm entladen." These are the extremes; but when in 
the season neither of our exaltation nor of our depression we 
soberly consider the matter, then we choose most certainly for 
ourselves (and so also for others) what we think the highest 
life, i. e., the life with the highest functions; and in that life we 
certainly include the feeling of pleasure; but if the alternative is 
presented to us of lower functions with less pains and greater 
pleasures, or higher functions with greater pains and less pleasures, 
then we must choose the latter. 

"Now if we reject utility as the index to God's commands, we must 
assent to the theory of hypothesis which supposes a moral sense. One of the 
adverse theories which regard the nature of that index is certainly true." — 
Austin's Jurisprudence, I, 79. 

If we wished to cross an unknown bog, and two men came to us, of whom 
the one said, "Some one must know the way over this bog, for there must be 
a way, and you see there is no one here beside us two, and therefore one of 
us two must be able to guide you. And the other man does not know the 
way, as you can soon see; therefore I must" — should we answer, "Lead on, 
I follow"? Philosophy would indeed be the easiest of studies if we might 
arrive at truth by assuming that one of two accounts must be true, and 
prove the one by disproving the other; but in philosophy this is just what 
cannot be done. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 35 

And the alternative is conceivable. If it is impossible in fact 
that a stage of progress could come where by advancing further 
in the direction of what seerns to it highest, humanity would 
decrease its surplus of pleasure (and I do not see how it is to be 
proved impossible)" — yet, at all events, the alternative can be 
brought directly before the mind. Advance in this direction (the 
higher) at the cost of pleasure, on the whole, after the pleasure of 
advance is counted in; advance in that direction (the lower) 
with the gain of pleasure, on the whole, even after the regrets of 
the nonadvance have been subtracted. The necessity for choice 
can be imagined; and there is no doubt, on the one side, what the 
choice of the moral man would be; there is no doubt, on the other 
side, what, if pleasure were the end, it ought to be. In such a case, 
what we think the most moral man and people would be therefore 
the most certain to act immorally, if Hedonism is morality. 

But these consequences, it will be urged, do not apply to 
modern Utilitarianism. That creed, we shall be told, whether for 
the man or the race is high and self-sacrificing. For not only 
does it place the end in the pleasure of all, not the pleasure of 
one; but in addition it distinguishes pleasures according to their 
quality. The greatest quantity of pleasure is not the end; there 

^ Mr. Mill's assertion that "most of the great positive evils of the world are 
in themselves removable" (Utilitarianism, p. 21), calls for no remark; but 
the reader may perhaps think that Mr. Spencer's doctrine of the Evanescence 
of Evil (Social Statics, p. 73, flf.) should be noticed. His proof seems (so 
far as I understand it) to rest on the following assumptions: 

(1) The natural environment of mankind is stationary. Can this be proved? 

(2) Tljp spiritual environment of mankind is stationary. Not only can 
this not be proved, but the opposite is, or ought to be, supposed by the 
doctrine of evolution. Progress must alter the environment. 

(3) Apparently children are to be born in harmony with their surround- 
ings and remain so till death. 

(4) Moral evil in the sense of moral badness, is to disappear. It will be 
impossible to oppose one's private good to the general good, and act accord- 
ing to the former. Self-will will cease and with it the pain it brings. 

All these assumptions, I think, are wanted. Nos. 3 and 4 represent absolute 
impossibilities, so far as I understand the matter. No. 2 is impossible on the 
supposition of continual progress. No other supposition can be prove! to be 
true; and No. 1 cannot, I believe, be proved. How far Mr. Spencer's own 
teaching contradicts these assumptions is of no importance here. 

36 Ethical Studies 

are pleasures we desire in preference to others even at the 
cost of discontent and dissatisfaction. These pleasures, then, are 
to be preferred, and these are the higher pleasures. Such a 
doctrine, it will be added, is surely moral. 

The doctrine, we admit, has done homage to popular opinion, 
so far as, for the sake of it, to sacrifice its own consistency and 
desert its principle. This we shall have to prove later on. But 
yet we cannot for a moment think that it has succeeded in 
satisfying the demands of morality. Virtue is still a mere means 
to pleasure in ourselves or others and, as anything beyond, is 
worthless, if not immoral; is not virtue at all. What is right is 
determined by that which is most "grateful to the feelings" of 
connoisseurs in pleasures, who have tried them all. No com- 
promise is possible on this point. Ordinary morality is clear 
that when it aims at virtue for itself and others, it has not got its 
eye on wages or perquisites; its motive, in the sense of the object 
of its conscious desire, is not the anticipated feeling of pleasure. 
What it has before its mind is an object, an act or an event, 
which is not (for itself at least) a state of the feeling self, in itself 
or others. To say that, in desiring the right, it proposes to itself 
a pleasure to be got by the right is to assert in the face of facts. 
To the moral mind that feeling is an accompaniment or a con- 
sequent and it may be thought of as such. But to think of it as 
more, to propose it as the end to which the act or objective 
event are the means, and nothing but the means, is simply to 
turn the moral point of view upside down. You may argue 
psychologically, if you wiU, and say that what is desired is pleasure 
(this is false, as we shall show in another Essay), and we are 
ready for argument's sake to admit it here; for here it makes not 
the smallest difference. The moral consciousness does not think 
it acts to get pleasure, and the point here at issue is not whether 
what it believes, and must believe, is or is not a psychological 
illusion, but whether Utilitarianism is in harmony therewith. 

Hedonism in any form must teach "morality is a means to 
pleasure"; and whether that pleasure is to be got in morality or 
merely by morality, yet the getting of the pleasure is the ultimate 
aim. Pleasure for pleasure's sake is the end and nothing else is 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 37 

an end in any sense except so far as it is a means to pleasure. 
This, we repeat once more, is absolutely irreconcilable with 
ordinary moral beliefs. And not only is Hedonism repudiated by 
those beliefs as immoral, but as we saw, so far as the popular mind 
has pronounced upon it, it is also declared to be impracticable. 
These two points we wished to make clear, and with this result we 
have finished the first or introductory part of our undertaking. 

It remains to ask in the second place, Why is it that pleasure- 
seeking as the search for my pleasure is declared vain, and 
pleasure itself impalpable and misleading, a something which gives 
us no standard to work by and no end to aim at, no system to 
realize in our lives? We must look for an answer to the nature 
of pleasure. 

Pleasure and pain are feelings and they are nothing but feel- 
ings. It would perhaps be right to call them the two simple 
modes of 5e//-feeling ; but we are not here concerned with psycho- 
logical accuracy. The point which we wish to emphasize and 
which we think is not doubtful is that, considered psychically, 
they are nothing whatever but states of the feeling self. This 
means that they exist in me only as long as I feel them, and only 
as I feel them, that beyond this they have no reference to any- 
thing else, no validity and no meaning whatever. They are 
"subjective" because they neither have, nor pretend to, reality 
beyond this or that subject. They are as they are felt to be, but 
they tell us nothing. In one word, they have no content; they are 
as states of us, but they have nothing for us. 

I do not think it is necessary to dwell on this matter. Let us 
proceed to the application. The practical end, if it is to be a 
practical goal and standard, must present itself to us as some 
definite unity, some concrete whole that we can realize in our acts, 
and carry out in our life. And pleasure (as pain) we find to be 
nothing but a name which stands for a series of this, that, and 
the other feelings, which are not except in the moment or 
moments that they are felt, which have as a series neither limita- 
tion of number, beginning nor end, nor in themselves any refer- 
ence at all, any of them, beyond themselves. To realize, as such, 
the self which feels pleasure and pain means to realize this infinite 

38 Ethical Studies 

perishing series.* And it is clear at once that this is not what is 
required for a practical end. Let us see the problem a little closer. 

On the one side our Hedonist is aware, however dimly, of him- 
self not as this, nor that, nor the other particular feeling or satis- 
faction, but as something which is not this, that, or the other, and 
yet is real, and is to be realized. Self-realization, as we saw, was 
the object of desire; and so, as above, on the one hand is the self, 
which we are forced to look on as a whole which is in its parts, 
as a living totality, as a universal present throughout, and con- 
stituted by its particulars; and this self is setting out, however 
unaware, to find itself as such and to satisfy itself as such, or not 
to find itself and not to satisfy itself at all. On the other side is 
the mere feeling self, the series of particular satisfactions, which 
the self has come (how, we need not here inquire) to take as its 
reality and as the sole possible field for its self-realization. 

The point to observe is the heterogeneous nature of the self to 
be satisfied, and of the proposed satisfaction, and the consequent 
impossibility of a solution for the problem. The practical diflBi- 
culty is soon forced on the seeker after pleasure. 

Pleasures, we saw, were a perishing series. This one comes 
and the intense self-feeling proclaims satisfaction. It is gone and 
we are not satisfied. It was not that one, then, but this one now; 
and this one now is gone. It was not that one, then, but another 
and another; but another and another do not give us what we 
want; we are still left eager and confident till the flush of feeling 
dies down, and when that is gone there is nothing left. We are 
where we began, so far as the getting happiness goes, and we have 
not found ourselves, and we are not satisfied. 

This is common experience and it is the practical refutation of 
Hedonism or of the seeking happiness in pleasure. Happiness 
for the ordinary man neither means a pleasure nor a number of 

*It is an abstraction, no doubt, to consider pleasurable feelings as mere 
pleasures, but it is not our abstraction but the Hedonist's. It is an abstrac- 
tion, again, to consider feelings as merely particular. They cannot be that if 
they are our feelings, if they are the feelings of a self. But we can make our 
mere feeling self, as the self which feels mere pleasure and pain an objec* 
only in the series of its feelings, and these (as such a series) have no 
relations, each either within itself or beyond itself. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 39 

pleasures. It means in general the finding of himself or the 
satisfaction of himself as a whole, and in particular it means the 
realization of his concrete ideal of life. ^'This is happiness," he 
says, not identifying happiness with one pleasure or a number of 
them, but understanding by it, "in this is become fact what I have 
at heart." But the Hedonist has said, Happiness is pleasure, and 
the Hedonist knows" that happiness is a whole," How, then, if 
pleasures make no system, if they are a number of perishing 
particulars, can the whole that is sought be found in them? It is 
the old question, how find the universal in mere particulars? 
And the answer is the old answer, In their sum. The self is to 
be found, happiness is to be realized, in the sum of the moments 
of the feeling self. The practical direction is get all pleasures 
and you will have got happiness; and we saw above its well- 
known practical issue in weariness and dissatisfaction. 

The theoretical reason is simple. The sum or the All of 
pleasures is a self-contradiction, and therefore the search for it 
is futile. A series which has no beginning, or, if a beginning yet 
no end, cannot be summed; there is no All, and yet the All is 
postulated, and the series is to be summed. But it cannot be 
summed till we are dead, and then, if we have realized it, we, I 
suppose, do not know it, and we are not happy; and before death 
we cannot have realized it, because there is always more to come, 
the series is always incomplete. What is the sum of pleasures 
and how many go to the sum? All of how many is it, and when 

^ I am quite aware that with some Hedonistic writers "happiness" is not 
distinguished from "pleasure." They are said to be simply the same. This is 
an outrage on language, which avenges itself in the confusion described below, 
footnote, p. 60. But the argument of the text is not aflFected by it. If happiness 
=1 pleasure, then "get happiness" = "get pleasure." What is pleasure? It 
is a general name, and "get happiness" will mean "get a general name." But 
a general name is not a reality, and cannot be got. The reality is the particu- 
lar. "Get happiness" will mean then, "get some one pleasure." Is that it? No, 
we are to get all the happiness we can. And so, after all our quibbling, "get 
happiness" does mean "get the largest possible sum or collection of pleas- 
ures." Mr. Green, in his Introduction to Hume's Treatise (II, 7), has made 
this so clear that one might have hoped it could not have been misunder- 
stood. On the whole subject of this Essay let me recommend the student to 
consult him. 

40 Ethical Studies 

are we at the end? After death or in life? Do you mean a 
finite number? Then more is beyond. Do you mean an infinite 
number? Then we never reach it; for a further pleasure is con- 
ceivable, and nothing is infinite which has something still left out- 
side of it. We must say, then, that no one ever reaches happiness. 
Or do you mean as much pleasure as a man can get? Then every 
one at every point is happy and happiness is always complete, for, 
by the Hedonistic theory, we all of us get as much as we can.* 

* I am anxious that the reader should not pass by this argument as a verbal 
puzzle. Beside it there is certainly much more to be said against Hedonism; 
but the root of Hedonism is not understood, until it is seen (1) that pleasure, 
as such, is an abstraction (cf. Essay VH) ; (2) that the sum of pleasures is 
a fiction. On this latter head I fear that I must further enlarge. 

"Get all you can" is a familiar phrase, and is very good sense. I say to a 
boy, "Go into that room and fetch out all the apples you can carry"; and 
there is no nonsense in that. There is a given finite sum of apples, which I 
do not know, but which, under all the conditions, is the maximum. This is 
got and brought, and the task is accomplished. Why then not say, "Get all 
the pleasures you can"? For these reasons, (a) Let it be granted that there 
is a given finite sum of pleasures for the man to get; yet he never has got 
it. Only death puts an end to the work; and after death nothing, or the 
same unfinished task, (b) There is really no such sum. A pleasure is only 
in the time during which I feel it. A past pleasure means either an idea, or 
another (secondary) impression. Itself is nothing at all; I did get it, I have 
not got it; and the "did get" is not the pleasure. In order to have the sum 
of pleasures, I must have them all now, which is impossible. Thus you 
cannot reach the end, and the effort to reach it is not in itself desirable. You 
may say, if you please. The end is an illusion, and the effort worthless in 
itself, but this particular effort gives a specific pleasure, which is the end. 
But if you do this, then you either (i) sink considerations of quantity, and 
the greatest happiness principle is given up; or (ii) the same problem as 
above breaks out with respect to the sum of specific pleasures. 

If you admit that to get the greatest sum in life is unmeaning, then arises 
the question. Can you approximate, and make approximation the end? I wiU 
not raise the question. Can you approximate to a confessed fiction? and to 
avoid that, let us say. The end is for me, at any given moment of life, to be 
having then the greatest possible number of units of pleasure. Here we fall 
into the dilemma given in the text. Either happiness is never reached, or 
there is no one who does not reach the most perfect happiness imaginable. 

(1) // happiness means the greatest possible number of units then I never 
reach it. Whatever I have is finite, and beyond every finite siun another unit 
is conceivable. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 41 

The Hedonist has taken the universal in the sense of all the 
particulars, and in this sense, here as everywhere, since the 
particulars are arising and perishing, the universal has no truth 
nor reality. The true universal, which unconsciously he seeks, is 
infinite, for it is a concrete whole concluded within itself, and 
complete; but the false universal is infinite in the sense of a 
process ad indefinitum. It is a demand for, a would-be, complete- 
ness, with everlasting present incompleteness. It is always finite, 
and so never is realized. The sum is never finished; when the 
last pleasure is reached we stand no nearer our end than at the 
first. It would be so, even if the pleasures did not die; but in 
addition the past pleasures have died; and we stand with heart 
unsatisfied and hands empty, driven on and beyond forever in 
pursuit of a delusion, through a weary round which never advances. 
There remains, then, to Hedonism either the assertion that happi- 
ness is completed in one intense moment, or the confession that 
happiness is impossible, or the attempt to place it elsewhere than 
in the sum of pleasures. 

The first is the ''nullo vivere consilio." It is the giving up of 

(2) // happiness means having all I can get, no matter how much or how 
little, then, given the truth of the common Hedonistic psychology, every man 
at every moment has absolute happiness. This is very obvious. "Why so? 
comes the objection, "if Mr. A. had done otherwise he would have had more 
pleasure." "You mean," I answer, "// he had been Mr. B." When, in 
ordinary language, we say, "He did not do what he could, or what was 
possible," we mean, "His energy did expend itself in this direction, failed to 
do so in that," and we impute inability as a fault, where it is the result of 
previous misdirection. But the common Hedonist cannot say this, because, 
according to him, there is only one possible direction of expenditure, i. e., 
the greatest seeming pleasure. You have no choice between pleasure and 
something else, you can do nothing but gravitate to what seems most pleasant, 
and you cannot alter what seems except by your will, i. e., by gravitation to 
what seems most pleasant. Every one has done his conceivable utmost to 
approximate and therefore is absolutely happy. 

I think the better plan for the Hedonist would be to make happiness a fixed 
finite sum, which can be got, and beyond which nothing counts; and similarly 
to fix an unhappiness point on the scale; but we have pursued the subject far 

The question of the approximative character of all morality wUl be dis- 
cussed in another place. 

42 Ethical Studies 

any practical goal or any rule of life, and we are not called upon 
to consider it further. The second is inevitable if happiness is 
equal to the sum, or the greatest possible amount, of pleasures; 
for one and the other are the same unreal fiction. The end, in this 
sense, exists only in the head of the Hedonistic moral man. His 
morality is the striving to realize an idea which can never be 
realized, and which, if realized, would be ipso facto annihilated. 
He would feel it no objection to his theory nor any comfort in his 
sorrow if we said to him that, if happiness could be, then the 
tale would be made up, the end would be reached, the search 
would be over, and with it all morality; for his morality is noth- 
ing to him as an end but only as a means; and the bitterness of 
his lot is filled up by the thought that the means he does not care 
for are always with him, and the end he lusts after away from him. 
His morality says, get what you never can get; never rest, never 
be satisfied, strive beyond the present to an impossible future. 

The above is the proverbial experience of the voluptuary. His 
road to happiness is well known to be the worst, since pleasure 
there cannot be where there is no satisfaction; and he must end 
(whatever else may become of him) by giving up his earnest 
search for the sum of pleasures. 

The third alternative is not to give up pleasure as an end, but 
to place happiness elsewhere than in the greatest possible amount 
of "grateful feeling." This is what the prudent man of the world, 
with a love for pleasure, generally does do. We take a certain 
quantity of pleasure, and absence of pain, as a fair amount, which 
we may call happiness, because we feel we can do with it; and 
to get this amount we take up some way of living, which we 
follow, in general without thinking of pleasure. If opportunity 
offers for delights by the way, we take them, but without incon- 
veniencing ourselves, without leaving the road too far, and without 
thinking too much about it. It is a good rule to get more, but a 
rule we must not make too much of, or follow to the point of 
endangering our happiness, i. e., the fixed and fair amount which 
comes to us from our course of life. 

Pleasure is still ostensibly the end; but really it has ceased to 
be so, and, whether we know it or not, our way of living is an end 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake * 43 

to our minds and not a mere means. In short, we have got in- 
terests and these are objects of desire not thought of as means to 
pleasure. We have adopted happiness in the vulgar sense and real- 
ly have given up Hedonism as the consistent hunt after pleasure 
for pleasure's sake. Yet pleasure is still nominally the end, and 
hence the above view of life lies open to the following objections: 

"You tell me that pleasure is my end; and yet you tell me not 
to make it my end but to make some accredited type of life my end, 
and take the pleasure as it comes from that. I am to make getting 
pleasure my aim, though only by the way and at odd times. And 
in this manner you assure me that, in the long run, I shall secure 
the greatest amount of pleasurable feeling. It seems strange to 
have a mark one must not look at, but I should not care for that 
if I were sure to hit. Yet this is what I cannot tell if I shall do. 
I see men die, having reaped for themselves a harvest of painful 
self-denial; and the pleasure they made by it was but gleanings for 
others, when they were in the grave. Did they attain their end? 
And I, since our life at any moment may cheat us, shall I put off 
a present certainty for the sake of a doubtful future?" 

The answer must be, That is true enough; there is no certainty 
in life, but still it is more reasonable to act on probabilities. You 
may die, but the chances are you will live. You had better sup- 
pose that it will be so, and, taking the rules for living, the moral 
"Nautical Almanack,"^ direct your course by them; for, if you live 
as long as most men, you will certainly in this way get the most 

And perhaps this answer may satisfy. But a new and serious 
difiiculty arises. It being admitted that life is to be regulated on 
probabilities, the question then occurs, Who is to judge for the 
probabilities? The moral end is for me to get the most pleasure I 
can; the moral rule is, "Act on the probability of your living, and 
therefore live for life as a whole"; but this moral rule tells me 
nothing about the moral Almanack. Why is that to be to me a 
law? What does it rest upon? What others have done and 
found? Will others be responsible for me, then? Am I to act 
upon my own opinion, or am I to follow the Almanack even 

^ J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 36. 


44 • Ethical Studies 

against my opinion? Is the latter course right and justifiable? 
Will it, so to speak, excuse me in the Hedonistic judgment-day 
when charged with having missed my end by misconduct, to plead 
that I did what others did, and that, when my own belief would 
have brought me right, I followed the multitude, and therefore did 

It appears to me that, if I am to seek my pleasure, it must be 
left to me to judge concerning my pleasure; and, this being so, the 
Almanack is not a law to me. It was made to be used by me 
according to my private views, not to be followed against them. 
And herewith all moral legislation disappears. 

For obviously, ( 1 ) circumstances get into strange tangles which 
cannot be provided against; and the course laid down in the 
Almanack as a law may, in peculiar cases, lead to pain instead of 
pleasure; and here I must disregard the Almanack. And obvi- 
ously, (2) not outward situations only, but men's temperaments 
differ. What brings pleasure to one brings none to another; and 
so with pain. You can speak generally beforehand, but it may 
not apply to this or that man. And the consequence is that the 
Almanack and its moral rules are no authority. It is right to act 
according to them. It is right to act diametrically against them. 
In short, they are not laws at all; they are only rules, and rules, 
as we know, admit of and imply exceptions. As Mr. Stephen has 
said: "A given road may be the direct way from one place to 
another, but that fact is no reason for following the road when 
you are offered a short cut. It may be a good rule not to seek for 
more than 5 per cent in investments, but if it so happens that 
you can invest at 10 per cent with perfect safety, would not a man 
who refused to do so be a fool?"^ 

And with this, if Hedonism be taken as the seeking my private 
pleasure, we have come to the end of Hedonism as a practical 
creed. Its aim was the getting for myself a maximum surplus of 
pleasurable feeling, and it gave me rules which it was my duty to 

® F. Stephen, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, 2nd ed., p. 363. Mr. 
Stephen has put this part of the case so strongly that I have not thought it 
worth while to enlarge upon it. Kant is very clear and successful on this 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 45 

follow. But it is not in earnest with its rules; they may hold 
good or they may not hold good; I may keep them or break 
them, whichever I think most likely to issue in pleasure in my 
particular case. And it is not in earnest with its end. To aim at 
pleasure is not to get it, and yet the getting of it is a moral duty. 
We must aim at it then by the way, without caring or trying too 
much to get it. We are not to think about the rules except as 
servants which may be useful or worthless, and about the end, 
perhaps, the less we think the better. We are to please ourselves 
about the rules; we are to please ourselves about the end; for 
end and rules are neither end nor rules. Our positive aim in life 
is given up; we may content ourselves, as a substitute, with the 
resolve to live our life as we find it, to sink useless theories, and 
follow the bent of our practical leanings; or, saddened at our 
disenchantment, may embrace the conclusion that, if pleasure can- 
not be found, yet pain at least can be avoided. Not only in the 
school, but in life around us, does the positive beginning conduct 
to the negative result, to the making a goal of an absence, to the 
placing the end in a mere negation. 

We have shown, in the first place, the collision between popular 
opinion and Hedonism as the search for pleasure ; we have shown, 
in the second place, the reason why the seeking of my pleasure 
gives no practical end in life. On both points we have dwelt, 
perhaps, at unnecessary length; but we have not yet done justice 
to the doctrine which makes virtue a means, not to my pleasure, 
but to the pleasure of the "whole sentient creation" — to modem 
Utilitarianism which may be called, I suppose, our most fashion- 
able moral philosophy. This we must now notice, but only so 
far as our subject; compels us. A more detailed examination is not 
called for here, and, as we think, would not repay us anywhere. 

The end, as before, is the greatest amount of pleasurable feeling, 
yet not now in me, but in the sentient world as a whole. The 
first thing to observe is that (as we noticed above), if happiness 
means this, happiness is unrealizable — it can by no possibility 
be reached. If the greatest happiness, in the sense of the maxi- 
mum of pleasure, was, as applied to the individual, a mere "idea" 
or rather a self-contradictory attempt at an idea, which we saw 

46 Ethical Studies 

by its very nature could not exist as a fact, then a fortiori, I 
should say, the realization of a maximum of pleasure in the "whole 
sentient creation" (which stands, I suppose, for what particular 
animal organisms are now and are to be hereafter) , is nothing 
but a wild and impossible fiction. 
\ Happiness, in the sense of "as much as you can," we saw, is 
never and nowhere realized; or, if anyone prefers it, is realized 
everywhere and without any drawback. In both cases, as a 
something set to be gained, it has no signification. Happiness 
in the meaning of a maximum of pleasure can never be reached; 
and what is the sense of trying to reach the impossible? Hap- 
piness, in the meaning of always a little more and always a little 
less, is the stone of Sisyphus and the vessel of the Danaides — it is 
not heaven, but hell. Whether we try for it or not, we always 
have got a little more and a little less® (than we might have), and 
never at any time, however much we try for it, can we have a 
little more or a little less than we have got. 

But theoretical considerations of this sort are likely neither to 
be understood nor regarded. Our morality, we shall hear, "is 
a practical matter." And I should have thought it indeed a prac- 
tical consideration, whether our chief good be realizable or no, 
whether it be irpaKTov kol kttjtov avOpwirw or exist only in the heads 
of certain theorists. But let this pass. We can avoid, I dare 
say, practical inconvenience by not meaning what we say or 
saying what we mean. 

Whatever, then, we may think about the possibility of the actual 
existence of the end, and the satisfactoriness (or otherwise) of 
aiming at the impossible and unmeaning, at all events our moral 
law and precept is clear. Increase the pleasure, i. e., multiply in 
number, and intensify in quality, the pleasurable feelings of 
sentient beings, and do the opposite by their pains. 

We have already noticed, but it may not be amiss to call 

si ® To define happiness as "increase in pleasure," or "the having more than 
we had," would not extricate us from our diflBculties, For then no stationary 
state could be happy at all, and no man would be happier than another save 
in respect of being in more intense transition. The actual amount of pleasure 
would go for nothing. But it is not worth while to develop the absurdities 
consequent on such a possible definition. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 47 

attention once more to the fact that a doctrine of this sort is 
directly opposed to popular morality. If, by being changed into 
pigs, we secured an absolute certainty of a greater amount of 
pleasure with a less amount of pain, we (I speak for the ordinary 
person) should decline the change, either for ourselves or the race, 
and should think it our duty to do so. But, if we believe that the 
greatest amount of pleasure is the end, it would be our duty to 
strive after and accept such a change. And some such choice is 
not a mere theoretical possibility. Unless Fourier be much be- 
lied, his scheme of "phalansteries" was a practical proposal to 
seek for pleasure as the end, and all else as means. The ordinary 
moral man refuses to discuss such a proposal. He repudiates the 
end, and the means with it. But the "greatest amount of pleasure'^ 
doctrine must accept the end and calmly discuss the means; and 
this is not the moral point of view. It is surely imaginable (I do 
not say it is likely), that we might have to say to a large and im- 
moral majority, "If I wanted to make you happy, which I do not, 
I should do so by pampering your vices, which I will not."'° 

So much for the morality of the theory. Let us now consider 
its practicability and consistency. The end, as the pleasure of all, 
is, like my pleasure, not something which I can apprehend and 
carry out in my life. It is not a system, not a concrete whole. 
There are no means included in it; there are none which, in them- 
selves, belong to the end. Wanting to know what I am to do, 
"Increase the pleasure of all" gives me, by itself, no answer. "But 
there is no need that it should," will be the reply. The experience 
of mankind has discovered the means which tend to increase plea- 
sure; these are laid down in the moral Almanack (Mill, p. 36), 
and they may fairly be considered as included in the end. 

Here I think that Hedonism does not see a most serious dif- 
ficulty. It is the old question. What is the nature of the authority 
of the Almanack, and are its rules laws? If they are laws, on 
what do they rest? If they are not, are there any other moral 
laws; and without laws can you have morality? Let me explain 
the objection. You cannot, I object to the Hedonist, make 
these laws part of the end, and identify them therewith; for the 

^° F. Stephen, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, p. 287. 


48 Ethical Studies 

end was clearly laid down as pleasurable feeling and there is no 
essential connection between that end and the laws as means. If 
the laws or rules are not feelings (and they are not), they must 
be mere means to feeling. The relation of the two, of the end 
and the means, is external. You cannot, from the conception 
of the end as such, conclude in any way to the rules as such. 
This seems to me quite clear; and, if it is so, then you can in 
your mind put the end on one side and the rules on the other, 
and contemplate the possibility of going to the end without these 
particular means. You may say you do not care for possibiHties ; 
experience shows the connection of means and end, and that is 
enough. This point I wish especially to emphasize: such an 
observed connection is not sufficient; or it is sufficient only if we 
are prepared to make one of the two following assumptions. The 
first is that the general opinion of mankind, which we suppose to 
exist and be embodied in these rules, is infallible; that it takes 
the only way, or the best way, to the given end; and also that 1 
have no excuse for thinking otherwise. The second is that, whether 
I think the rules the best means to the end or not, I have in any 
case to sink my own view as to the right means to the given end, 
and take the rules as something which is not to be departed 
from. One of these two supposable assumptions is necessary. 

(1) Now with respect to the first, I see no ground upon which 
the Hedonist, were he so disposed, could maintain and justify such 
a strong asssertion of the o irdaL So/cet. Why am I bound to 
consider these laws infallible, in such a sense that any departure 
from them, in any case, must contribute less to the given end 
than a corresponding observance? And how to me is such a 
truth (if it be a truth) not to be an open question? How is my 
doubt or my denial of the truth to be ipso facto immorality? An 
example will help us. Let us take the precept. Do not commit 
adultery. How are we to prove that no possible adultery can in- 
crease the overplus of pleasurable feeling? How are we to show 
that a man's honest and probable view to the contrary is an 
immoral view? And, if we cannot show these things, what 
becomes of this first supposable assumption? 

(2) Then, if mankind may err, if the right of private judgment 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 49 

is not to be suppressed, if the supposed general experience is not 
infallible, how can it be moral for me always to follow it even 
in the teeth of my own judgment? I may be perfectly aware 
that acting on rules is, speaking generally, the way to reach 
the end. I may even admit that the departure from rules in most 
cases has produced, and must produce, an effect detrimental 
to the end. I might, if I pleased, for argument's sake admit 
(though it would be contrary to fact, and no one could ask for 
such an admission) that every previous departure from rules has 
been a failure, and has decreased the surplus. But now the 
matter stands thus: I have taken all pains to form an opinion, 
and I am quite certain that my case is an exception. I have 
no doubt whatever that in this instance the breaking of a rule 
will increase the surplus. To say that I am a fool does not 
touch the question; to say that I must be mistaken does not touch 
the question; to say that I ought not to think as I do, or ought 
not to act accordingly, begs the question. The moral end is 
clear; I, after having thought over all considerations up to my 
lights, am clear as to the means. What right have you, what right 
has the world to tell me to hold my hand, to make your un- 
certain opinion the standard rather than the certain end? How 
shall I answer for it to my own conscience^^ if I do? What is 
this rule that is to come between me and my moral duty? Let 
us repeat our illustration. The rule says. Do not commit adultery. 
I wish to commit adultery. I am sure I do not want to please 
myself at all, in fact rather the contrary. I am as positive as 
I can be of anything, that the case is either not contemplated by 
the rule, or, if it is, that the rule is wrong, that the proposed act 
must diminish the sum of the pain, and must increase the sum 
of the pleasure of the sentient world as a whole, and this too 
after all consequences that I can reckon (and I can reckon no 
more) have been counted in. Is it immoral then to break the 
rule; or rather is it not immoral to keep it, to sacrifice a real 
good to a mere idea? My conscience is clear; and my dreams 
will not be broken by "the groans of an abstraction.'"* 

^^ "And to my God," I might add, against those who drag the Deity into 
the question. 

^' J, S. Mill, Dissertations and Discussions, I, 21. 

50 Ethical Studies 

Now, if it be answered here that, on any theory of morals, 
collisions must arise — that I fully admit to be true: and again, 
that on any theory collisions of this kind must arise (i.e., not the 
conflict of moral ends, but the conflict of diverse reflective 
calculations as to the means to a given moral end) — that (though 
I absolutely deny it) I will admit for argument's sake, and argu- 
ment's sake alone. But (1) it belongs to the essence of Hedon- 
ism to provoke such collisions, and to justify the raising of 
casuistical questions on well-nigh every point of conduct, and 
this not merely theoretically, but with a view to one's own imme- 
diate practice. The reason is simple, and we have stated it 
already. The end for Hedonism has no means which belong to 
it and are inseparable from it. The means are external and 
so long as you get the end the means are immaterial. The 
relation of the means to the end is matter of opinion, and it can- 
not be more than matter of opinion. The opinion of any number 
of persons is still only an opinion. The end I am certain of. 
As to the means, I have nothing but the opinion of myself and 
others. The last appeal is to my private judgment. Now my 
private judgment may assure me that in 999 cases out of 1000 it 
contributes more to the end that I should not exercise my private 
judgment. It may assure me that, being what I am, it will con- 
tribute to the surplus if I never use my private judgment. But it 
need not so assure me. It may assure me that in the thousandth 
case I had better use my private judgment. And it may go a 
great deal further than this. The question is not. Do I and others 
act as a rule from habit, and according to general opinion? for 
that is a mere question of fact. The question is one of morals: 
ought my private judgment ever to come into collision with 
general opinion, as in fact it sometimes does and must? If not, 
why not? If it may, then ought I in such cases ever to follow it? 
and, if not, why not? If I may follow it in my own case once, 
why not twice? If here, why not there? And if anybody is ever 
to use their private judgment on any moral point, why may not I 
be the man, and this the case where I may? To put the whole 
matter in two words — the precepts of Hedonism are only rules, 
and rules may always have exceptions. They are not, and, so far 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 51 

as I see, they cannot be made to be laws. I am not their 
servant but they are mine. And, so far as my lights go, this is 
to make possible, to justify, and even to encourage, an incessant 
practical casuistry; and that, it need scarcely be added, is the 
death of morality. Before I proceed, however, let me entreat the 
reader to remember that the question. Are Utilitarians immoral? 
is one question, and the question, Is their theory immoral? 
altogether another and the only one which we are concerned with. 

And (2), if it were true that no other moral theory was in a 
happier plight, what are we to say but "so much the worse for all 
moral theories," and not "so much the better for Hedonism." 
The moral consciousness is the touchstone of moral theories, and 
that moral consciousness, I appeal to it in every man, has laws 
which are a great deal more than rules. To that consciousness 
"Do not commit adultery" is a law to be obeyed; it is not the 
prescription of a more or less questionable policy. It is not a 
means, which in the opinion of A, B, and C will or may conduce 
to an end other than itself, and in the opinion of D may or wiU 
not do so. Let the Hedonist refute thrice or four times over, 
if he pleases, his rival theories; but he does not thereby establish 
his own, and is no nearer doing so than before. 

To proceed — the conclusion we have reached is that, supposing 
it to be certain that the end is the maximum surplus of pleasure in 
the sentient world, that end gives no standard for morality. The 
end is in itself most abstract and impalpable. The means are 
external and in themselves immaterial to the end; and the fixing 
the relation of means to end must always be matter of opinion; 
in the last resort it is, and (what is most important) it ought to be, 
matter of my private opinion. As it turned out before, so here 
also the rules are not laws; I can please myself about them; and 
a standard which is no standard, a law which is no law, but which 
I may break or keep, which is at the mercy of changing judgment 
and fleeting opinion, is no practical basis for me to regulate my 
life by.^' 

^' To bring the matter home to the reader, I will produce an example or 
two of cases where Hedonism gives no guidance. If in certain South Sea 
Islands the people have not what we call "morality," but are very happy, is 


52 Ethical Studies 

The Utilitarian, I am perfectly aware, does not wish me to keep 
A the end continually before me, but rather to have my eye on the 
accredited means. The question is not, however, what the Utili- 
tarian wishes, but what his theory justifies and demands. One of 
the most serious objections to Hedonism is that, as we have seen, 
it is not in earnest with its own conclusions. It is no argument 
in favor of a theory, it is surely rather an argument against it, 
that it cannot teach the legitimate consequences of its principles. 

The greatest amount of pleasure then, if we take it for our end, 
we have found to be unrealizable, to be non- or im-moral, and 

it moral or immoral to attempt to turn them from their ways? If by an im- 
moral act, which probably will not be discovered, I can defeat a stroke of 
pernicious policy on a large scale, what am I to do? Is prostitution a good 
or a bad thing? To prove that it is bad we must prove that it diminishes the 
surplus of pleasant sensations, and is not this a fair subject for argument? 
Do I or do I not add to the surplus of "grateful feeling" by a given act or 
acts of sexual irregularity? This is a serious practical question, and I know 
that in many cases it is honestly answered in the affirmative; and in some of 
these cases, so far as such impalpable questions can be judged of, I should 
say the affirmation was correct. Is suicide ever allowable, and if so, when? 
and when not? Is murder, and if not, why not? and so on with all the crimes 
in the decalog and out of it. If any given act is to be shown immoral you 
must, if called on, exhibit the probability of its producing more pain than 
pleasure in the world, and is not this again and again a hopeless problem? 
Of course the Hedonist does not want the question raised. Of course he 
wants people to go by rules always, and that no one should ask any questions, 
except it be himself. That we quite understand. The point is, if I choose to 
raise such questions, on what ground can he say I may not? On what ground 
can he refuse to discuss the case? On what ground can he blame me if I 
take and act on a view which is other than his view? 

"The beliefs which have thus come down are the rules of morality for the 
multitude, and for the philosopher until he has succeeded in finding better. 
That philosophers might easily do this, even now, on many subjects .... 
I admit, or rather earnestly maintain" (Mill, Vtil., p. 34). From the author 
of the Essay on Liberty this should mean a good deal. If the philosopher 
may make new rules, I suppose he may modify old ones. And who is "the 
philosopher"? Are we (as proposed for the franchise) to have an examina- 
tion, passing in which shall entitle a man to try "experiments in living"? Or 
shaU we leave it to private judgment? Then I should like to know in these 
days of "advanced thinking" who would not be a "philosopher," and how 
many would be left in the "multitude." 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 53 

lastly in practice to be an unworkable doctrine. All this time 
we have taken the end for granted. But now we are to ask, What 
ground is there for taking the pleasure of the sentient creation as 
the moral end? What possible reason is there why I should look 
on this as that for which everything else must be given up, even 
my own pleasure and my own life? And here I think Hedonism 
is altogether helpless. The consistent, and the only consistent 
position, is to say that I desire my own pleasure, that the pleasure 
of others is in many ways conducive to my own, and that desiring 
the end I must desire the means also. But this is a return to the 
doctrine we discussed above, viz., that my pleasure is the end; 
and to accept this doctrine is to leave the standpoint of modem 
Utilitarianism, and to say. Its end is not an end; it is or it may 
be a mere means. 

The Hedonist in his distress may turn himself in various 

(1) He may say, "The end is not provable because too good to 
be provable. It is self-evident, and nothing else is more certain." 
But having noticed already that the moral consciousness repu- 
diates the claim of his end to be the chief good, and it being clear 
that selfishtiess often in its practice, and sometimes in its theory, 
rejects its claim to be anything more than a means, I think we need 
not trouble ourselves with its pretense to self -evidence ; more 
especially as, according to the psychology of the ordinary Hedon- 
ist, to desire the end as such is a psychological impossibility. 

(2) The next resource is the Deus ex machina. Not only on a 
certain stage, but also with certain theorists the maxim seems to 
hold good, "When in trouble bring in the Deity." God, we shall be 
told, wills the greatest amount of pleasure of the whole sentient 
creation, and therefore we ought to do so likewise. Now, even if I 
were capable of it, I am not disposed to enter into the speculative 
theology of our "inductive" moralists; I will say to them merely, 
Lasst unsern Herrgott aus dem Spass, and go on. 

(3) But now I have to meet no less an antagonist than Mr. 
Mill himself; and he has proved that the Utilitarian end is 
desirable. Let us hear him: 

"No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable 


54 Ethical Studies 

except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, 
desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have 
not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is 
possible to require, that happiness is a good; that each person's 
happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, 
therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons" {UtiL, p. 52) 

Whether our "great modern logician" thought that by this he 
had proved that the happiness of all was desirable for each, I will 
not undertake to say. He either meant to prove this, or has proved 
what he started with, viz., that each desires his own pleasure. 
And yet there is a certain plausibility about it. If many pigs are 
fed at one trough, each desires his own food, and somehow as a 
consequence does seem to desire the food of all; and by parity of 
reasoning it should follow that each pig, desiring his own pleasure, 
desires also the pleasure of all. But as this scarcely seems con- 
formable to experience, I suppose there must be something wrong 
with the argument, and so likewise with the argument of our 

The End as the pleasure of all is, starting from the theories of 
our Utilitarian moralists, not only unprovable but impossible. If 
my self is something which exists by itself and independent of 
other selves, if all that I desire and can desire is my pleasure, 
and if that pleasure is an isolated feeling of this particular self, 
then the sole desirable is a state or states of my own feeling, arid 
in the second place whatever is a means to that. To desire an 
object which is not the idea of my pleasure is psychologically im- 
possible, and no torturing and twisting of phrases will make a con- 
nection from such an idea to any such object. And such an object 
is the idea of the pleasure of others considered not as conducing to 
mine. I may happen to desire the pleasure of others, and I may 
happen not to do so. To tell me the pleasure of others is desirable 
for me is to tell me you think it will conduce to my own; to tell 

^* Either Mill meant to argue, "Because everybody desires his own pleasure, 
therefore everybody desires his own pleasure" ; or, "Because everybody desires 
his own pleasure, therefore everybody desires the pleasure of everybody else." 
Disciples may take their choice. To us it matters not which interpretation 
be correct. In the one case Mill has proved his point by a pitiable sophism; 
in the other he has not proved any point at all. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 55 

me I ought to desire it either says that again, or it is nonsense. 
Ought is the feeling of obligation, and "when the feeling ceases the 
obligation ceases." The Utilitarian believes on psychological 
grounds that pleasure is the sole desirable; he believes on the 
strength of his natural and moral instincts that he must live for 
others; he puts the two together, and concludes that the pleasure 
of others is what he has to live for. This is not a good theoretical 
deduction,^" but it is the generation of the Utilitarian monster, and 
of that we must say that its heart is in the right place but the brain 
is wanting. 

Its heart, its "natural sentiment," does tell it that its substance 
is one with the substance of its fellows; that in itself and by itself 
it is not itself at all, and has no validity except as a violent and 
futile attempt at abstraction. And yet if we deny that a universal 
can be more than "an idea," if we are sure that the merely in- 
dividual and the real are one and the same, and in particular that 
the self is exclusive of other selves, and is in this sense a mere 
individual; and if further, for morality at all events, we cannot 

^^ It is monstrous to argue thus: "Because (1) on psychological grounds it 
is certain that we can desire nothing but our own private pleasure; because 
(2) on some other grounds something else (whatever it may be), something 
not my feeling of pleasure, something other than my private self, is desired 
and desirable; therefore (3) this something else which is desired and desir- 
able is the pleasure of others, since by (1), only pleasure can be desired." 
If we argue in this way, we may well go a little further to "(4) and 
therefore we can and do desire something not our ovm private pleasure, and 
therefore (1) is false, and therefore the whole argument disappears since it 
is upon (1) that the whole rests." 

I am ashamed to have to examine such reasoning but it is necessary to do 
so since it is common enough. Is it not palpable at first sight that (1) and 
(2) are absolutely incompatible, that each contradicts the other flatly? You 
must choose between them, and, whichever you choose, the proof of Utili- 
tarianism goes, because that springs from the unnatural conjunction of both. 

The only escape that I can see is to say in (2) that something is desirable 
though not desired, and write "not desired but desirable" for "desired and 
desirable." But not only is this perhaps altogether unmeaning, but also the 
conclusion now disappears; you can get nothing from the premises. Because 
A is desired and B is desirable, it does not follow, I suppose, that a hash of 
A and B is desired and desirable. 

56 Ethical Studies 

do without something that is universal, something which is wider 
and stronger than this or that self — then here, as in all other 
spheres, we are face to face with the problem, How out of mere 
individuals (particulars), which are fixed as such, can you get a 
universal? And the problem put in this way is insoluble. The 
self can desire in the end, as we too think, nothing but itself, 
and if the self it is to realize is an atom, a unit which repels 
other units, and can have nothing in itself but what is exclusively 
its, its feeling, its pleasure and pain — then it is certain that it can 
stand to others, with their pleasures and pains, only in an external 
relation; and since it is the end, the others must be the means, 
and nothing but the means. On such a basis morality is impos- 
sible; and yet morality does exist. But if the head could follow 
the heart, not with a wretched compromise but altogether; if the 
self to be realized is not exclusive of other selves, but on the 
contrary is determined, characterized, made what it is by relation 
to others; if my self which I aim at is the realization in me of a 
moral world which is a system of selves, an organism in which 
I am a member, and in whose life I live — then I cannot aim at 
my own well-being without aiming at that of others. The others 
are not mere means to me, but are involved in my essence; and 
this essence of myself, which is not only mine but embraces and 
stands above both me and this man and the other man, is superior 
to and gives a law to us all, in a higher sense than the organism 
as a whole gives a law to the members. And this concrete and real 
universal makes the morality, which does exist, possible in theory 
as well as real in fact. It is this which modern Utilitarianism 
is blindly groping after, but it will not find it till it gives 
up the Hedonism of its end and the basis of its psychology which 
stands upon uncriticized, violent, and unreal metaphysical ab- 

So much in passing, and here we might well end. We have 
dwelt too long on the efforts of Hedonism to compromise with 
morality, but we are forced to notice one last attempt. This con- 
sists in distinguishing pleasures, according to their quality,^' into 

^' There is a point which might be raised here, and which is of considerable 
importance. It is this. Are pleasures, as pleasures, distinguishable by any- 
thing else than quantity? The pleasure, as such, is not the whole pleasant 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 57 

higher and lower. The former are superior, the latter are inferior ; 
and hence, in preferring the higher pleasures, we are true to 
Hedonism and yet are at one with the moral consciousness. We 
must briefly examine this doctrine. 

It has two forms. One of these takes quality simply as quality; 
the other takes quality in relation to quantity, and looks on it as 
the index or result of quantity. The latter, we shall find, keeps 
true to the principle of the greatest surplus of pleasure, but it says 
nothing new. The former leaves the principle unawares and 
moves unknowingly to other ground, but can get no standing- 
place for morality. Let us first discuss the latter; but, before we 
begin, we must call attention to the phrases "higher" and "lower." 

Higher and lower (forgive me, dear reader) are "relative" — 
they are comparatives and they hence mean more or less of some- 
thing. Higher means nearer some top, or it means nothing. Lower 
means nearer some bottom, or it means nothing. This being 
established, when we talk of "higher" and "lower" pleasure, we 
ought to know what our top and our bottom are, or else we risk 
talking nonf-^nse. 

Next let me observe (and forgive me, if you can, reader) that 
top and bottom, as a rule, are "relative," and depend on the way 
in which you look at the matter. H the top is the "end," you may 
put the end anywhere — benevolence is (morally) higher than 

feeling, not the whole of what is felt. Then we have to ask, Does this "what 
is felt," which qualifies the pleasure, and makes it of one sort and not of 
another, make part of the mere pleasure itself, as pleasure? Or have we to 
say. Pleasure is itself always one and the same, and diflFers only in degree; 
sorts of pleasures are degrees of the same pleasure in reference to sorts of 
other feelings, which, as such, are not pleasures as such? Or more briefly. 
Has pleasure any content in itself? If not, then it has no qualitative dis- 
tinctness in itself, but only by its reference to that which it goes with. Is 
not pleasure, as such, the abstraction of one element of a whole psychical 
state from that state; and when so abstracted, are there differences of kind in 
it, or only of degree? Not wishing to give a positive opinion on this point, I 
have not introduced it into the text as affecting the argument. But the 
thoughtful reader will at once perceive its bearing. Hedonism, when it 
ceases to aim at pleasure as such and nothing but pleasure, is false to its 
principle and becomes incoherent. But if pleasure, as such, is not qualita- 
tively distinguishable, then we must have regard to nothing but quantity. 

58 Ethical Studies 

selfishness, murder is higher (as a crime) than larceny. You may 
speak of the height of goodness, badness, pleasure, pain, beauty, 
and ugliness. And so, when a man talks to us of "higher" and 
"lower," he says nothing to us at all till we know what end or 
summit he has in his mind. 

Again, higher and lower, as comparative terms, refer to degree. 
What is higher has a greater degree (or it has a greater number 
of degrees) of something definite; what is lower has a less degree 
or number of degrees. Their quality, as higher and lower, is re- 
ferable to quantity.^^ So that apart from quantity, apart from de- 
gree, there is no comparison, no estimation, no higher and lower 
at all. 

The result of these perhaps trivial considerations is that if we 
are confined to mere quality, the words higher and lower have no 
meaning. If of two pleasures I cannot say one is higher than the 
other in degree (as intenser), or as the result or producer of 
degree (as accompaniment of higher function, or as connected 
with approximation to some end), then the words higher and 
lower cannot be applied to them. The sphere of mere quality is 
the world of immediate perception ; and here we may say A or we 
may say B, but we cannot make comparisons between A and B 
without leaving our sphere. I may take this and not that, I may 
choose that and not the other, but if, because of this and on the 
mere strength of this I call one higher and one lower, I am not 
simply arbitrary and perhaps wrong in my opinion, but I am 
talking sheer and absolute nonsense. 

To proceed then with one of our two views, (1) the theory 
which takes quality either as = intensive quantity, or as a means 
to quantity in general. The "higher pleasure" is here the pleasure 
which contains in itself most degrees of pleasure, or which con- 
tributes on the whole to the existence of a larger number of de- 
grees of pleasure. Here the principle of the greatest amount of 

^'' Speaking roughly and inaccurately, we may say they are of this quality, 
as containing more or fewer degrees of somewhat, or as the result of more or 
fewer degrees, or (what comes to the same thing) as producing a qualitative 
result which is referred to more or fewer degrees; e.g., a certain warmth is 
higher because containing more degrees of objective heat; a piece of work is 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 59 

pleasure is adhered to; that is the top, and what approaches to it 
or contributes to it is nearer the top. But since the moral "higher" 
is here, as we see, the more pleasurable or the means to the more 
pleasurable, we come in the end to the amount, the quantity of 
pleasure without distinction of kind or quality; and having al- 
ready seen that such an end is not a moral end, we get nothing 
from the phrases "higher" and "lower" unless it be confusion. 

(2) The second view is that which distinguishes pleasures by 
their mere quality. The "higher" pleasure here is not the more 
intense pleasure; it is not the pleasure connected with the 
maximum of pleasure on the whole without distinction of kind. 
It is the preferable kind of pleasure (Mill, UtiL, p. 12). 

The first point to be noticed is that our theory gives up and 
abandons the greatest amount of pleasure principle. If you are to 
prefer a higher pleasure to a lower without reference to quantity — 
then there is an end altogether of the principle which puts the 
measure in the surplus of pleasure to the whole sentient creation. 
It is no use saying all pleasures are ends, only some are more ends. 
It is no use talking of "estimation" and "comparison" (Mill, pp. 
12, 17). You have no standard to estimate by, no measure to 
make comparisons with. Given a certain small quantity of higher 
pleasure in collision with a certain large quantity of lower, how 
can you decide between them? To work the sum you must reduce 
the data to the same denomination. You must go to quantity or 
nothing; you decline to go to quantity and hence you cannot get 
any result. But if you refuse to work the sum, you abandon the 
greatest amount of pleasure principle. 

There is no harm in doing that; but what else have we to go 
to? The higher pleasures? And what are the higher pleasures? 
We find higher pleasure means nothing but the pleasure which 
those who have experienced both it and others do as a fact choose 
in preference. Higher then, as we saw above, has no meaning at 
all unless we go to something outside pleasure, for we may not go 
to quantity of pleasure. But, if we go outside pleasure, not only 

higher if it is the result of more skill; and A's skill stands higher than B's, 
if A produces a result which B cannot produce, and if the result must be 
referred to the amount of skill in the performer. 

60 Ethical Studies 

have we given up the greatest amount theory but we have thrown 
over Hedonism altogether/* 

Let us drop the word higher then, as we must. The end is 
pleasures in order, as they are preferred by men who know them. 
The objection which at once arises (p. 14) is, Is there not any 
difference of opinion? Do not different men, and does not even 
the same man at different times, prefer different pleasures? What 
is the answer? It is not very intelligible, and is too long to quote 
(pp. 14, 15). What it comes to would appear, however, to be 
either Yes or No. Let us consider these alternatives one at a time. 

(1) If we say "Yes, not only do different men prefer different 
pleasures but so does the same man at different times," then what 
basis have we left for a moral system? Merely this. Most men at 
most times do prefer one sort of pleasure to another; and from 
this we have to show that I ought to prefer one sort of pleasure to 
others at all times. We need not ask how the transition is to be 
made from what most men do to what I am to do. I think it can 
be made on no view of human nature, and I am quite sure it can- 
not be made on Mill's view. Supposing then that in Mill's mouth 
moral obligation had a meaning, yet there is no reason why it 
should attach itself to the average pleasures of the average man. 

(2) And if we say No, if having accepted the Platonic doctrine 
that the judge of pleasures is he who knows them all, we go 
further and assert with Socrates that no man is willingly evil, that 
you cannot prefer bad to good, that, if you take the bad, it is 
because you never have known or now do not know the good, we 

^® Mill is unaware that he has done so because of the various senses in 
which he uses the word happiness. Happiness is (pp. 8, 10) simply identified 
with pleasure. Then (13, 14) appears the doctrine that happiness may exist 
without contentment, and (I suppose) contentment without happiness. We 
hear (13) that the "sense of dignity" is "part" of happiness, and (19) we see 
happiness means a desirable kind of life. It is a "concrete whole*' with 
"parts" (55). It has "ingredients" (53) and appears to be a mere "aggre- 
gate" or "collective something." Instead of pleasure it has plainly come to 
mean something like the life we prefer, and hence greatest happiness will 
stand for the widest and intensest realization of such an ideal. This is to 
leave Hedonism altogether. [My references throughout are to Utilitarianism, 
1st ed., the only one I have at hand.] 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 61 

then I think are in good company, but in no better case. For an 
opponent will hold to the fact that he does knowingly prefer what 
is called bad to good, and will hence, by our argument, conclude 
first that bad is really good, and next that nothing can be either 
good or bad, since bad to one man is good to another. And if we, 
on the other hand, persist that the fact is impossible (I do not 
know how we are to prove it so), and that no one ever did or 
could choose what we call bad, when he had in his mind what we 
call good, then we identify immorality with ignorance and moral 
obligation disappears. For every man not only does, but must 
do, the best on every occasion so far as he knows it; his knowl- 
edge is an accident which has nothing to do with his will; he must 
act up to the ought, so far as he has an ought, and he cannot 
do what he thinks is wrong. 

To proceed — the basis of our moral theory is now. There is a 
scale of pleasures; some persons know all, and others only some; 
but you necessarily choose the pleasures you know according to 
the scale. I, e. g., know the alphabet of pleasures, always or some- 
times, up to M. "Immoral man to choose M when you should 
have chosen P or R or even X." But I do not know what they 
are. "And therefore you are immoral for I and a good many 
other people do." But let us drop the matter here; on such 
a theory, the reader will assent, moral obligation is unmeaning.^* 

^® At the risk of hypercriticism I will make one or two further remarks on 
Mill's view. According to it, pleasures must stand in a kind of order of 
merit, represented, let us say, by the letters of the alphabet. All pleasures, 
because pleasures, are good in themselves. A pleasure is immoral only when 
taken where a higher was possible, now or as a consequence. Then every 
pleasure is moral because it has a supposable pleasure below it; every 
pleasure is immoral because there is always a supposable pleasure above it. 
No man is moral because his knowledge is limited and he therefore cannot 
always take the highest conceivable pleasure; but if so, then all men are 
equally moral for they all take the highest pleasure they know. Or, passing 
by this, let us suppose the pleasures divided into two classes — higher and 
lower. If the lower are to be considered at all, then, as we have said, in the 
event of a collision the problem is insoluble because what is not of the same 
denomination cannot be compared. Let us suppose then that the lower are 
not to be considered and we are left with the higher. Here the same prob- 
lem breaks out. For these pleasures are no system; if you make the idea 

62 Ethical Studies 

On either supposition, then, these preferable pleasures found 
no "ought" in the moral sense — you have them or you have them 
not, you like them or you do not like them, you know them or 
you do not know them, and there is an end of it. If A, B, and 
C call D immoral, D may return the epithet, and if he likes to say 
"ignorance is morality" or to make any other assertion whatever, 
he can do it, as it appears to me, on precisely the same ground as 
A, B, and G have for their assertions, viz., no ground at all but 
likes and dislikes. 

And here I think we might leave the matter; but, having gone 
so far, we may as well go a little further. Not only has moral 
obligation nothing in Mr. Mill's theory to which it can attach 
itself save the likes or dislikes of one or more individuals, but in 
the end it is itself nothing more than a similar feeling. 

"The ultimate sanction of all morality" is "a subjective feeling 
in our minds" (p. 41), and the "moral faculty" is "susceptible 
by a sufficient use of the external sanctions, and of the force of 
early impressions of being cultivated in almost any direction; so 

of a system your end, and regulate the pleasures by that, you have deserted 
Hedonism, The pleasures are no system and they are not all of equal value. 
Hence, as above, they cannot be calculated quantitatively. In the event of 
collisions then (such as must take place) between e.g. the pleasures of 
philosophy, pleasures of natural science, pleasures of virtue, pleasures of love, 
pleasures of the table, pleasures of the "theopathic affections," pleasures of 
fine art, pleasures of history, etc., you have again a problem which cannot be 
solved except by the caprice of the individual who will prefer for himself and 
others what he likes best. 

Another point of interest is that the theory which begins with the most 
intense democracy, wide enough to take in all life that feels pleasure and 
pain, ends in a no less intense Platonic aristocracy. The higher pleasure is 
to be preferred to any amount of the lower, and I suppose is to constitute the 
moral standard. But clearly the beasts are incapable of refined pleasures; 
the vulgar are better, but still very low; the only man who knows the highest 
pleasure is the philosopher. He is moral, the universe below is immoral in 
increasing degree. And, since no amount of lower can weigh against higher, 
and, since the highest pleasures (and only the philosopher can judge what 
they are, for only he knows all) are realizable only in the few, therefore we 
must live for the few, and not for the many. And I suppose the same 
argument might be used by the artist, or well-nigh anyone else. But it is 
not worth while to pursue the matter further. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 63 

that there is hardly anything so absurd or so mischievous that it 
may not, by means of these influences, be made to act on the 
human mind with all the authority of conscience" (p. 44) . The 
feeling of obligation then, we see, does not refer itself essentially 
to anything in particular. And further, "this sanction has no 
binding efficacy on those who do not possess the feelings it appeals 
to" (p. 42). "The sanction, so far as it is disinterested, is always 
in the mind itself, and the notion, therefore, of the transcendental 
moralists must be that this sanction will not exist in the mind, 
unless it is believed to have its roots out of the mind, and that, if a 
person is able to say to himself. This which is restraining me and 
which is called my conscience is only a feeling in my own mind, 
he may possibly draw the conclusion that when the feeling ceases 
the obligation ceases, and that, if he find the feeling inconvenient, 
he may disregard it and endeavor to get rid of it" (pp. 42, 43). 
This is a serious matter and I should say that any theory which 
maintains that a man may get rid of his sense of moral obligation 
if he can, and that, if he does so, the moral obligation is gone, is as 
grossly immoral a theory as ever was published. Does Mr. Mill 
repudiate the doctrine? Not at all; he evidently accepts it, though 
he prefers not to say so. The passage goes on : "But is this danger 
confined to the Utilitarian morality?" etc. Now I am ashamed 
of repeating it so often but I must entreat the reader not to have 
dust thrown in his eyes in this way, and not to be distracted by 
"transcendental moralis" or any other bugbears. The question is. 
Is theory A true, or are we obliged to say that either theory A 
is false or the facts are a lie? The question is not. Have theories 
B and C the same fault as A? When we have done with A we will 
then, if we choose, go to B and C; and if they turn out all false 
that does not prove one true. These pleader's devices are in place 
in a law court, but philosophy does not recognize them. 

If then all that the moral "ought" means is that I happen to 
have a feeling which I need not have, and that this feeling 
attaches itself now to one set of pleasures and now to another set 
according to accident or my liking, would it not be better alto- 
gether to have done with the word, and, as some have done, 
openly to reject it and give it up since already we have given up 

64 Ethical Studies 

all that it stands for? But if we give up the word then we have 
confessed that, as a theory of morals, Hedonism is bankrupt and 
we left with nothing but our "natural sentiment." 

Hedonism is bankrupt. With weariness we have pursued it, so 
far as was necessary, through its various shapes — from the selfish 
doctrine of the individual to the self-sacrificing spirit of modern 
Utilitarianism. We have seen that in every form it gives an end 
which is illusory and impalpable. We have seen that its efforts to 
compromise with the moral consciousness are useless; that in no 
shape will it give us a creed that holds water, and that will justify 
to the inquiring mind those moral beliefs which it is not prepared 
for the sake of any theory to relinquish. Whatever we may think 
of those who embrace the doctrine, whatever may be its practical 
results, yet, theoretically considered, we have seen, I trust, that it 
is immoral and false, and are ready to endorse the saying, 'H8ov^ 
TcAos, 7r6pvT]<i Soyfia. 

Modern Utilitarianism has a good object in view. Though we 
understand it differently,, we have the same object in view, and 
that is why we are at issue with Utilitarianism. 

We agree that it is desirable to have a standard of virtue which 
is palpable and "objective"; and therefore we refuse to place the 
end in what is most impalpable, what is absolutely and entirely 

We agree that the end is not the realization of an abstract idea; 
and therefore we refuse to take as our end the greatest amount 
of pleasure, for that is an abstract idea, and it is altogether 

We agree that the end is not a "thing-in-itself," is not Heaven 
knows what or where, but is the end for us as men, ravOpoiinvov 
ayaOov; and therefore we refuse to find it in that element of the 
mind which is least distinctively human, and shared with us by the 
beasts that perish. 

We agree that it must be KTr^Tov avOpwTro) ; and therefore we refuse 
to seek for it in that which has become a proverb for its fallacious- 

We agree in the refusal to separate actions and consequences ; 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 65 

and therefore we refuse to abstract from action one moment, viz., 
the accompanying or the consequent feeling, and put our test in 
the more or less of that. 

We agree that happiness is the end; and therefore we say 
pleasure is not the end. 

We agree that pleasure is a good; we say it is not the good. 

We agree (strange fellowship!) with the author of the Essay on 
Liberty in affirming the o iraai SoKel tovt' elvat cpafxiv', and therefore 
we dissent from a theory which gives the lie to the moral con- 
sciousness and whose psychological basis destroys and makes un- 
meaning the maxim. 

We agree to make the self-evolution of ourselves and of human- 
ity the end. We refuse to place progress in the greater or less 
amount of "grateful feeling." We repeat the good old doctrine that 
the test of higher and lower cannot lie in a feeling which accom- 
panies the exercise of every function, but is to be found in the 
quality of the function itself. To measure that, we are to go to our 
idea of man and to his place in creation and his evolution in 

In one single word, the end and the standard is self-realization, 
and is not the feeling of self-realizedness. 

May we suggest, in conclusion, that of all our Utilitarians there 
is perhaps not one who has not still a great deal to learn from 
Aristotle's Ethics?^'' 

'° Since the above was written Mr. Sidgwick's book has appeared. I am 
far from wishing to deny to it a certain value, but on the subject of Hedonism 
I cannot honestly say more than that he seems to me to have left the question 
exactly where he found it. As other people, however, seem to think other- 
wise, I am forced to define my position against him. But I labor here imder 
two difficulties — the first, want of space ; the second, my inability to make 
sure of Mr. Sidgwick's meaning. 

The latter arises in great measure from the character of the work. Ostensi- 
bly critical, it goes throughout upon preconceptions which not only are not 
discussed but which often are not even made explicit. With some of these 
we must begin. 

(1) It is tacitly assumed that the individual and the imiversal are two 
independent things (p. 473) . Hence the mere individual is not (as with us) 
an abstraction in our heads, but a read existence. 

(2) The practical result of this dogmatic preconception is seen on p. 374. 

66 Ethical Studies 

To find a man's ultimate end we are to suppose "only a single sentient con- 
scious being in the universe." This supposition presupposes either that the 
universe is real out of relation to all consciousness, or is real in relation to 
one finite consciousness. An author no doubt has a right to maintain these 
or any other propositions, but whence he gets a right quietly to take them 
for granted I should be glad to be informed. 

(3) But let us suppose the possibility of a finite subject alone in a»material 
imiverse, and then let us look at Mr. Sidgwick's views from the ground of 
common sense. 

On this ground I say (a) for myself, I cannot imagine myself into the 
position of this solitary sentient and doubt if the author, or anyone else, can 
do so. (b) Passing this by, we come to the assertion that such a supposed 
being would consider itself to have some rational end, some ultimate good, 
something right and reasonable as such, for which to live. All I can say here 
is that so far as I can imagine myself absolutely alone in a material world, I 
do not think it would occur to me that I had anything to live for. (c) Sup- 
posing however that, being forced so to continue, I did avoid pain and get 
pleasiu-e, it would not occur to me to say that therefore I was realizing an 
"intrinsically and objectively desirable," the "end of Reason," the "absolutely 
Good or Desirable." 

Surely common sense must see that, to find what end we ought to pursue 
in the human life we live, by seeing what would be left us to pursue in an 
unimaginable and inhuman predicament, is not common sense at all but 
simply bad metaphysics. No doubt a mere quantity is no more than the sum 
of its units, and to find the value of each unit no doubt you must isolate it by 
division. But tacitly to assume that the moral world is a mere sum of units 
whose value can be found separately, is really nothing but an enormous piece 
of dogmatism. 

Starting from these preconceptions as to the nature of the individual, we 
have to get to the conclusion that the pleasure of all is the end for each, which 
problem we have seen above is insoluble. Mr. Sidgwick has an argument 
whereby he "suppresses Egoism," which, so far as I can take it in, is as 
follows : 

(1) We do, as a fact, desire objects other than our pleasures. But 

(2) Our private pleasure is for us the sole ultimate or rational desirable. But 

(3) Our private pleasure as such is not rational. Therefore 

(4) It is rational for us to desire something other than it. And because 

(5) Pleasure is the only thing we can desire (?) ; therefore 

(6) We desire, and are to desire, pleasure as rational. But that means 

pleasure in general, L e., pleasure without reference to any feeling 
subject in particuleir. 
(This is, of course, not Mr. Sidgwick's statement, but my understanding, 
or very likely my misunderstanding, of him; so I shall not examine it in this 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 67 

He takes from Utilitarianism the pleasure of all as my end, whether I 
happen to want it or not. He takes from the popular interpretation of the 
moral consciousness the desire for "the right and reasonable as such." These 
seem to go well together, and we say, "I am to desire the pleasure of all as 
right and reasonable as such." This assertion being emphatically repudiated, 
it is necessary to prove it. How to do this? As before, isolate a man and 
you will see that he perceives intuitively that it is right and reasonable for 
him to pursue pleasure. This means that he perceives two things: (1) that 
he desires his private pleasure, (2) that he desires the reasonable. Put them 
together and you get the argument: (a) the reasonable is not my private 
pleasure, (b) other people's pleasure is not my private pleasure. Therefore 
(c) other people's pleasure is reasonable. Or, if this is not meant, perhaps 
the assertion is that the isolated man sees two things together, both that his 
pleasure is the reasonable end, and that not his pleasure, but pleasure as 
such, is so. In that case would it not be better to say at once, "I intuitively 
perceive that the Utilitarian conclusion is right"? for then the reply, "But 
I do not," would end the argument. 

However Mr. Sidgwick may get to his conclusion, he has to make it good 
against two parties — (1) those who assert the right and reasonable, but deny 
that it is pleasure; (2) those who deny the right and reasonable, but assert 
pleasure as my private pleasure. (1) The first party (so far as I can repre- 
sent them) have spoken already. We deny the intuition, and the reasoning 
we have sufficiently refuted by stating it; and if we wished to do more, we 
should do well to press for some further account of the phrases "objectively 
desirable," "real end of reason," etc. If my pleasure is my sole end, if the 
objective is (also) my end, then I should say there is a hopeless contradic- 
tion in which we stick. (2) But Mr. Sidgwick's attitude toward Egoism is 
more instructive. Having first (after Butler) rightly denied the basis of 
Hedonism, viz., the assertion that I desire nothing but pleasure, he throws 
himself repentant into the arms of the true faith, and says, "Though as a fact 
other things are or seem to be desired, yet nothing but my pleasure is 
desirable. My pleasure is the end." Here we have Egoism. "But," says Mr. 
Sidgwick, "the right and reasonable is objectively desirable." "Not so," 
replies the Egoist. "The objectively desirable is a fiction. The distinction of 
desiretf and desirable is wholly fallacious unless 'desirable' is a clumsy name 
for the means to what I desire. The end is what I do desire and that is just 
what I happen to like; 'reasonable' is what I correctly conclude is a means 
to that; and for 'right' and 'ought,' if they are not a misleading way of 
saying this over again, they are as nonsensical as 'objective end of reason.' " 
And against this Mr. Sidgwick, having left the only true line, has nothing 
to say but that he hopes the Egoist will be good enough to admit that some- 
thing is objectively desirable as an end. If the Egoist does so, he is "sup- 
pressed" certainly, and deserves to be. But wiU he do so? I recommend 
the reader to peruse Stirner's book, Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum. 

68 Ethical Studies 

Mr. Sidgwick asserts that only my pleasure is desirable and that I desire 
this as objectively desirable. But (1) //I desire my pleasure as mine in par- 
ticular, is it not a flat contradiction to say I desire it as not mine in particu- 
lar? And (2) can I desire my pleasure as pleasure in general? Is not that 
a pure fiction invented to support a weak compromise — a fiction which 
neither of the parties opposed would, if they understood their position, attend 
to for a moment? Is my feeling pleased anything but my feeling pleased? 
Can you put the "feeling pleased" on the one side and the "my" on the 
other? I know but one theory on which this is possible and that is the view 
which, while it regards the distinctions of "me" and "you" as mere illusion 
or "Maja," nevertheless maintains that the pleasure and pain are not mere 
illusion. Against this view I am not called on to argue, and Mr. Sidgwick 
is, I imagine, no more a friend to it than I am. 

I have criticized Mr. Sidgwick sharply, not from want of respect, but 
because I must be brief and fear to be obscure. Whether I understand him 
or not, I do not know; and with respect to what Mr. Bain has said on the 
same subject this again is my case. As to what he means by "disinterested 
action" I have not the le£ist idea. He speaks of "entering into the feelings 
of another being," which, on his view, is to me much as if he said, "One bag 
of marbles enters into the marbles of another bag"; and again {Emotions, 
etc., 3rd ed., p. 267) , he talks of "pleasures whose nature is to take in other 
sentient beings," which, again, is as if he said, "There are some marbles whose 
nature it is to take in other bags of marbles." Either these things are illusions 
or not. If they are not, it seems to me they revolutionize the whole of Mr. 
Bain's psychology. If they are, I want to know whether and why we are to 
rest our Ethics upon them. What seems clear to me is this — Pleasure is the 
one end or it is not. If it is not, then Hedonism goes. If it is, then my 
pleasure is my end. The pleasure of others is neither a feeling in me nor 
an idea of a feeling in me. If it seems to be so, this is a mere illusion. If 
what is not my feeling or its idea is my end, then the root of Hedonism is 
torn up. If so, the argument from the individual to the race disappears 
because pleasure is not the sole end of the individual. 

In this plight, nothing is left to Hedonism but an appeal to the facts of 
society. If these show that progress so far involves increase of pleasure (and 
here, on the question of fact, Hedonism has to meet Pessimism), that does 
not prove it wiU be always so; still less does it prove that the idea of 
increase of pleasure is the moving cause of progress, and even less that it 
ought to be. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 69 


There are two questions suggested by the above — (1) Is 
pleasure good, and if so, in what sense is it good? (2) Is pain evil 
and in what way is' it evil? Let us take the latter first. 

Considered psychically pain is an evil because it is the feeling 
of the negation of the self or life. The good is the afl5rraation of 
the self and hence pain is counter to the good. If we are asked 
to suppose a pain which is a feeling of negation, but not a felt 
negation, i. e., which is not really in any way the negation of func- 
tion or the cause of such negation, and are then asked, Is such 
hypothetical pain an evil? we cannot say it would be, because we 
can say nothing about it at all. It seems to us to be an unreal 
abstraction. Real pain is the feeling of the negatedness of the 
self and therefore, as such, it is bad. It is bad also because it 
further acts in the direction of the general lowering of life. Both 
as felt diminution of the good and as the cause of further diminu- 
tion, it is an evil. 

If, where pain comes from negated function, but the function 
is supposed to be indifferent, we are asked. Is then the pain bad? 
we reply that it is so because the whole self is negated — / feel 
pain, and am therein lowered directly or indirectly. 

In passing we may ask, Is then pain on the whole an evil? We 
cannot say that. We know that pain often is a good; and we 
should have a right to say of any pain that it was an absolute 
evil only if we knew that it was pain per se, i. e., mere negation. 
But that is what we cannot know. Speaking generally, you cannot 
have mere pain, the negative without the positive; painlessness 
means death; pain appears to involve reaction; and again, wher- 
ever there is an active conscious self it seems there must be pain. 
To say that pain is an absolute evil we should have to answer in 
the affirmative the question, Can you have the positive without the 
negative, or the negative in this form? And I do not see how 
we can give this answer. We know that pain is often a stimulus; 
without some pain little is produced — perhaps nothing. We know 

70 Ethical Studies 

that the pain of the part is often the good of the whole; that that 
good demands sometimes even the destruction of the part. The 
life of the whole is the end and for this all must be sacrificed. And 
so the question is, Is the negation of the part always a condition 
of the affirmation of the whole, or is it sometimes not? (And we 
should remember that the affirmation of the whole may be in the 
part or without the part.) Can we ever say, Here is an overplus 
of the negative; here is negation of function, which, in itself and 
its results, is negation of the good, or of life as a whole? I do 
not see how we are to say this because I do not see how we can 
know enough about the whole of things. For anything I can tell 
pain per se may be always an unreal abstraction, as I know it 
often is. What is bad for this or that relative totality may be 
good for a higher; and above the highest relative totality may be 
(for anything I know to the contrary) an absolute totality in 
which and for which pain is the mere condition of affirmation 
and in no sense the diminution of life, but whose life (as I sup- 
pose all life) involves in itself a subordinated negation. This I 
do not assert to be the case; but I wished to point out that no man 
has a right to say pain is an evil absolutely unless he knows that 
there is no such life of the whole, or that pain is a negative which 
limits its functions, and is not a negative condition of those 

To return from our digression. We have seen that pain is bad 
whenever it is not necessary as a condition of good. Turning 
now to pleasure, we ask. Is pleasure, generally speaking, good? 
Doubtless it is good. It is the felt assertion of the will or self. 
It is felt self-realizedness. It is good because it accompanies and 
makes a whole with good activity, because it goes with that self- 
realization which is good; or secondly, because it heightens the 
general assertion of self, which is the condition of realizing the 
good in self. 

Pleasure is the physical accompaniment of exercise of function 
and a distinction is required in order to think of function apart 
from some pleasure. Perhaps there is really no such thing. The 
function brings its own pleasure, however small, though the whole 
state may be painful. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 71 

Pleasure, then, is generally good; but the questions which now 
arise are, Can pleasure exist without function? If so, is it good? 
Or to put it otherwise, Are all pleasures of activity good? Are 
all pleasures of passivity good? Are any pleasures neither good 
nor bad? And finally, Is any pleasure good per se, or simply as 

Can pleasure exist without function? We could not enter here 
on a psychological investigation of the point even were we able 
to treat the matter satisfactorily. But taking pleasure to be the 
feeling of the realizedness of the will or self, we should doubt if 
apart from some present function or activity pleasure could exist. 
The questions to be answered would be, how far in what seem 
the most, or mere, "passive pleasures" of sense function is con- 
cerned; how far in contemplative pleasures activity of contempla- 
tion comes in; how far, lastly, the very feeling of self, which is 
pleasure, in being felt implies an activity. To a tired man, for 
instance, the pleasure of lying down in bed is great; he wants no 
more; it is complete affirmation of his will, perfect satisfiedness. 
But as he grows more and more sleepy does his pleasure increase? 
When he is asleep does he feel pleasure? On the other hand, is 
he less satisfied? and if so, in what sense? If his pleasure has 
been diminished or has ceased, is not that because the reaction, 
the function of the feeling center has ceased or been diminished; 
and is not that reaction what is felt when pleasure is felt? 

Let us, however, pass by this question, as without answering it 
decidedly we hope to show how far pleasure is good. Roughly 
speaking, we can distinguish pleasures of activity and passivity; 
pleasure which comes with our doing something, and pleasure 
which we do nothing to get.^ Let us ask with each class when 
pleasure is good and when it is bad, if it is bad. 

(1) We will first take pleasures of activity. 

{a) When are they good? When the activity is good the 
pleasure is good because the two are a physical whole. You can- 
not have the function without the pleasure — the absence of the 

^ We need not distinguish further the pleasure of having something done 
to us. It will, I think, be covered by our answer, and it is a somewhat 
complicated state of mind. 

72 Ethical Studies 

pleasure would weaken and perhaps destroy the function, and 
also generally lower the self to the detriment of other functions; 
whereas presence of pleasure tends to the heightening of functions 
in general, besides its own function. Then what activities are 
good? Detail is impossible but, generally, those which directly 
realize the good will in a living man, or which indirectly increase 
life and so the possibility of a higher realization of the good in a 
living man or men. Or rather the two cannot be divided. Life is 
a whole ; and life is not only the condition of the good but may be 
taken as another name for it. "The end of life is life," and (speak- 
ing generally) what heightens life heightens the good. Pleasure 
then is not a means to the good but is included in it and belongs 
to it. 

(6) What pleasures of activity are bad then? for admittedly 
there are such. The pleasure is bad when the activity is bad, and 
the activity is bad when, in its immediate or ulterior results, it 
lowers the life of the individual or of a larger totality, and so 
diminishes realization of good, or prevents a higher and fuller 
realization. Here pleasure is bad because it strengthens and in- 
tensifies a bad activity. The pleasure per se is not bad, but then 
there is no such thing except in our heads. 

(2) Next as to pleasures of passivity. Let us for shortness' sake 
exclude artistic pleasures, and take pleasures of sensuous satis- 
faction. Are passive sensuous pleasures good or bad? In them- 
selves, I think, they are neither good nor bad. Or we may say 
roughly, they are good when they are not bad. 

(a) When are they bad? This is not hard to answer. They 
are bad when they prevent or retard the realization of the good 
life in us by preventing action. This they do when they produce 
special results which hinder the good, or when they generally 
contribute toward a habit of self-indulgence, which is bad because 
it retards or opposes the activity of the good. In short, they are 
bad when they lower life or prevent its progress. They are not 
bad per se, but then here again they do not exist per se. 

(b) When are they good? They are good when (without the 
evil results just mentioned) they increase what is ordinarily called 
happiness, a feeling of general content with one's existence. That 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 73 

is good because existence is good, and because without happi- 
ness existence is impaired, and with it the good; and because 
happiness (generally speaking) increases activity. Discontent 
and unhappiness are great evils, for (even if they do not lead to 
immorality) they lower life and activity for good. "Life is the 
end of life," and so what makes life more liveable is good; and 
life further must be realized in living men, the basis of whose 
nature is and miist remain animal. To neglect the basis is to 
make as great a mistake as to regard it as the crown and summit. 
Life is a whole; and hence pleasures inseparable from life, and 
pleasures that maintain and heighten a feeling of well-being and 
joy in living (which again heightens life), are good because 
life is good — supposing, that is, that they are not bad, in the 
sense described above. 

We come now to the two questions — Are any pleasures neither 
good nor bad? Are any pleasures good per se? 

(1) Are any pleasures neither good nor bad? The ordinary 
man would say Yes. A certain amount of pleasure is undeniably 
good; and (as a rule), if you want more, the more is good (where 
it is not bad), and this because the satisfaction of the want is 
good for you, or the nonsatisfaction bad. Then again undeniably 
there is (speaking generally) a too much of any particular 
pleasure and that too much is bad. But between enough and too 
much, as in the pleasures of eating and drinking, there comes a 
neutral territory. It is probably good for you to have say not less 
than two glasses of wine after dinner. Six on ordinary occasions 
is perhaps too many ; but, as to three or four, they are neither one 
way nor the other. If asked, is the pleasure of these intermediates 
bad? we say No. If asked, is it good? I do not think we can say 
Yes. If asked, is it not a positive addition to the surplus of 
pleasure? I do not think we can say No. We should put the 
whole question aside as idle. We should say the pleasure is neither 
good nor bad, or at least we do not know that it is. So far the 
ordinary man. 

Now whether this margin is scientifically defensible, whether 
there must not be a point say of number of drops or fractions of 

74 Ethical Studies 

drops which is good, and beyond which acme you fall at once 
into badness, we shall not discuss. It is not an easy question 
and fortunately the answer matters nothing to our argument. But 
for the ordinary man clearly some pleasures are neither good nor 
bad, and this because (for him) they do neither harm nor good. 

(2) To come now to the question, Is any pleasure a good per 
se? we are in a position, I think, to answer it in the negative. 
Ordinarily it does sound absurd to say mere pleasure is not an 
end since at first sight it seems desirable. The foregoing, how- 
ever, should have removed this difficulty. We have seen that the 
pleasures pronounced desirable are so because they are inseparable 
from and heighten life ; and hence these pleasures are not pleasures 
per se. And further, if the doctrine of the indifferent margin were 
indefensible (we believe that it is not so), then no pleasure could 
be a pleasure per se, and our present question would disappear. 

But supposing that there exist pleasures which are only pleasur- 
able and, so to speak, end in themselves, then these may certainly 
be desired, but I think they are not considered desirable or good. 
And, if that is so, then, in denying that pleasure in itself is good, 
we are not in collision with the ordinary consciousness. To illus- 
trate : Having had three glasses of wine I may say I think so much 
was desirable. I certainly may have another if I like, and I 
suppose it will give me a certain amount of pleasure and no pain, 
or lessening of pleasure, now or afterwards. Is the surplus good? 
Is it desirable? Clearly, though a pleasure, and though not bad, 
it may not be good; and such is the case, I think, with all 
innocent pleasures, as e. g. those of physical exercise, sports and 
games, sight-seeing, etc. If this be so, however, then common con- 
sciousness does not hold pleasure per se to be desirable or good. 
And as for philosophical arguments, what and where are they? 

We have now seen that pleasure is good so far as inseparable 
from life, and so far as it results in the heightening of life. But 
in itself, if and so far as we separate it by an abstraction or find it 
apart from its good qualities, it is not good, it is in no sense an 
end in itself. 

Here we might cease, but further elucidations will perhaps not 
be superfluous. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 75 

Life is an end in itself. It is true that life implies pleasure. 
Pessimism notwithstanding, it implies, speaking generally, a 
surplus of pleasure; and I am not called upon to deny (though 
I certainly neither assert nor admit it) that higher life means 
always a greater surplus. 

If so, have we come back to Hedonism? Since pleasure and 
life are inseparable, can we say that to aim at the realization of 
life is to aim at pleasure? No, in the sense of making it an 
object it is not to aim at pleasure; and this distinction is a vital 
difference which we must never slur. Function carries pleasure 
with it as its physical accompaniment, but what determines, 
makes, and is good or bad, is in the end function. Function, 
moreover, is something comparatively definite. It gives some- 
thing you can aim at, something you can do. Not so the plea- 
sure. Further, so far as function and pleasure are separable 
objects of choice, we must, if we are moral, choose the former. If 
they are inseparable, are one whole, why are we to aim at the 
indefinite side, at the subjective psychical sequent and accompani- 
ment when we have an objective act which we can see before us 
and perform, and which is the prius of the feeling? It is the 
act carries with it the pleasure, not the pleasure the act. 

"Yes, but," it will be said, "we want more pleasure, more than 
we get with present function ; and we will alter the function to get 
the pleasure." Then you must take one of these three positions. 
You (a) wholly reject the idea that one function is in itself higher 
than another; or, while believing in higher and lower functions, 
you say (b) pleasure is separable, or (c) inseparable from the 

On the first supposition (a) you break at once with common 
morality which does not believe that lower and higher stand for 
mere means to less or more pleasure. And (b) on the second you 
are confessedly immoral for, while believing in a higher, you 
propose to sacrifice it to pleasure. "Let us have pleasure, even 
at the cost of function," is not a moral point of view.* 

^ Nor can you reconcile yourself to common morality by saying, "But we 
will only increase the pleasure." For (1) either the increase of pleasure does 

76 Ethical Studies 

Thirdly (c) if you maintain more pleasure and higher function 
to be on the whole inseparable, you may at once be challenged as 
to the truth of that assertion; and if you are not allowed to 
assume it, you cannot assume that more pleasure is an end. 

But allowing you for the present to assume that higher function 
and more pleasure go together, so that to have one is to have the 
other, why (I would ask), if these two are one whole, will you 
persist in isolating one side of that whole since surely it is the 
less knowable side? The coincidence of the two is an extremely 
general truth ; it need not be true for this man or generation ; and, 
if so, how is it possible to aim at progress except by aiming at 
function? The function must (on the whole and in the end) 
carry the pleasure with it, and it is surely a more definite mark. 
Is it not preposterous to think of aiming at more pleasure, in 
the end and on the whole (not in any future that we can see), 
in order, by making this the end, to get along with it some 
higher function which we know nothing about? Is it not {e. g.) 
hopelessly vague, if we want to find out what the divine will is, 
to attempt to define it by some idea of pleasure in the end and 
on the whole, and not to ourselves or any one else in any time 
that we can see? Is it not less vague to study that will by con- 
sidering the previous evolution of it, and to accept what seems a 
higher step in that evolution as an end in itself? Must we not 
say that this going together of function and pleasure is a mere 
general faith which we cannot verify by experience in every 
case, and so cannot use to determine our particular course? 

Of course one sees quite clearly that, generally speaking, it is a 
good thing to aim at the increasing of pleasure and diminishing of 
pain; but it is a good thing because it increases the actuality and 
possibilities of life. To make function the end justifies and 
demands the increase of pleasure and gives you all you can fairly 
ask in that way. But to say more pleasure is all the end, and life 
a mere accompaniment to that, is another matter. 

And again, when we are doubtful what is higher in progress, 

issue in the heightening of function, and will be good in this sense and not 
in yours; or else (2), as we have seen, if pleasure neither raises nor lowers 
function, then common opinion considers it neither desirable nor undesirable. 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 77 

it may be a safe course to increase pleasure and diminish pain 
because that heightens the good functions we have. But to look 
on the increase of pleasure as the mark to aim at always and 
simply, when we aim at progress, is again a very different course. 

But, leaving this subject, we must observe that we have no 
right to assume that higher function and more pleasure do on 
the whole go together. We have bitter proof that in particular 
cases and stages of progress this is not the case, and so are forced 
to separate the two in our minds. We can imagine function with- 
out pleasure since we have experienced decrease of pleasure 
proportionate to heightening of quality of function. But, when 
the two come thus before the mind separately, we feel we must 
choose function and not pleasure. 

In conclusion, there is one way in which pleasure may be used 
as a test of function. It shows whether function is impeded in 
discharge or not. But by it you cannot tell higher from lower 
function; and, if you go by it you must prefer a lower state of 
harmony to a higher state of self-contradiction. 

For the sake of clearness I have run the risk of wearisome 
length and repetition. In the foregoing Essay I have sharply, not 
I hope too sharply, criticized Hedonism. From a somewhat more 
positive consideration I have reached the same result. And now 
in a spirit of conciliation I would ask the Utilitarian, whose heart 
is in the right place, who does not care about pleasure, but who 
wants something definite, to consider this — whether to take life as 
the end, the highest and ever a higher life, be more vague than 
Hedonism; whether it does not give him all he wants; and 
whether, beside being more in harmony with morality, it is not 
equally antagonistic to Asceticism. 

If our end is to realize the life or the self which is realized in 
all life and to develop this in more distinctively human forms, 
and if we consider that this life to be realized must be realized in 
living individuals, we shall be far enough from asceticism. There 
is here no abstract negation of human nature, no sacrifice of 
detail and fullness to a barren formula. The universal is realized 
only in the free self-development of the individual, and the indi- 
vidual can only truly develop his individuality by specifying in 

78 Ethical Studies 

himself the common life of all. As we repudiate the liberty of 
Individualism (better, Particularism), so we repudiate the 
tyranny of the (abstract) universal. The member is no member 
but a parasitical excrescence if it does not live with the life of the 
whole; the whole life does not exist except in the life of the 
members. And here, in the moral sphere, the members are self- 
conscious. It is then only in the intensity of the self-consciousness 
of the members that the whole can be intensely realized. Further- 
more, these members are spiritualized animals; everything human 
stands on the basis of animal life ; and to make self-realization the 
end not only justifies but demands attention to the well-being and 
happiness of man as a spiritualized animal, because the feeling of 
inner harmony is required for, is the psychical condition of, 
maintenance and progress of function. So far as this we go and 
must go, but no further; we ought not to sacrifice what seems to 
be maintenance or progress of function to prospect of increased 
pleasure. But I do not think that the Utilitarian wishes to teach 
that doctrine; and whatever he wants to teach he can teach with- 
out making pleasure the end. To repeat it once more, if self- 
realization is the end, then pleasure is a relative end and good, 
because a condition without which good is impossible; and hence 
to increase pleasure is good, though we need not add "for pleas- 
ure's sake." And unhappiness is evil if it is a psychical state 
which tends to exclude the good, and may be treated as an evil, 
which it is our bounden duty to fight against, without our being 
forced to say "it is the evil itself and there is no evil beyond it." 

If again it is objected that the end is vague and has no con- 
tent, the following Essays will tci a certain extent, I hope, remove 
the objection. Here we may reply that to take human progress 
as the end, and to keep our eye on past progress, is not a useless 
prescription; and if any one wants a moral philosophy to tell him 
what in particular he is to do, he will find that there neither is nor 
can be such a thing, and at all events will not find it in Hedonism. 

One word on the unconscious or latent Hedonism of society in 
its progress. That is no argument for making pleasure the end, 
as the reader who has followed me so far will, I trust, at once see* 
Taking for granted the asserted fact that society tends to identify 

Pleasure For Pleasure's Sake 79 

what brings pleasure with what is good, we altogether deny the 
Hedonistic inference. If society tends to realize life more highly 
and perfectly, it is obvious that it must also realize the conditions 
of such life. The fact that life cannot exist without pleasure does 
not prove pleasure to be the end of life, unless we are prepared to 
say (the illustration is not a good one) that because as a man rises 
in society he wears better clothes, therefore, to be dressed like a 
gentleman was the conscious or unconscious end of his advance- 
ment. Of course, it might have been; but do we say that it was? 
Or, again, a mother may have desired her daughter's health not 
for her health's sake, but for the sake of her looks; but would it 
not be an unfounded inference to conclude that it must have been 
so? The argument we have noticed holds against asceticism, but 
we must entreat the reader to bear in mind that the opposite of a 
false view may be every whit as false; and that you could argue 
from the denial of asceticism to the assertion of Hedonism only if 
you had previously made good your alternative, your "either — or" 
of the two. 

Finally (as we have already gone beyond all bounds), let us 
make a remark on the phrase "Utilitarianism." It is a thoroughly 
bad name and misleads a great many persons. It does indeed 
express the fact that, for Hedonism, virtue and action are not the 
end but are useful as mere means to something outside them. 
But surely it would be better to call the theory after its end 
(as we have done),* since to not a few persons "Utilitarianism" 
conveys the notion that the end is the useful, which, besides 
being strictly speaking sheer nonsense, is also misleading. The 
associations of the useful are transferred to Hedonism, and if 
these are in some ways unfavorable (Mill's Util., p. 9), they 
seem to me in other and more ways to be favorable. The 
practical man hears of "the useful" and thinks he has got some- 
thing solid, while he really is embracing (as I have shown) the 
cloud of a wild theoretical fiction from which he would shrink if 
he saw it apart from its false lights and colors. And on which- 
ever side the balance of advantage lies, no respectable writer 

' Since Mr, Sidgwick's book has appeared this has grown more common, 
and is a step in the right direction. 

80 Ethical Studies 

can wish to rest on a basis of misunderstanding. The two words 
"useful" and "happiness" delude not only the public but perhaps 
all Utilitarian writers. While they are the terms employed, the 
question cannot possibly be brought to a clear issue; and let me 
say for myself that I see no good reason why "Utilitarianism" 
should stand for Hedonism. If "happiness" means well-being or 
perfection of life, then I am content to say that, with Plato and 
Aristotle, I hold happiness to be the end; and, although virtue is 
not a mere means, yet it can be regarded as a means and so is 
"useful." In this sense we, who reject Hedonism, can call our- 
selves Utilitarians, and the man who thinks he is pushing some 
counterview by emphasizing "happiness" and "usefulness" does 
not touch us with his phrases, but rather perhaps confirms us. 
But pleasure for pleasure's sake, and life and virtue for the sake 
of pleasure, is another doctrine which we repudiate. 


TN our answer to the question, Why should I be moral? we 
found that, explicitly or by implication, all Ethics pre- 
supposed something which is the good, and that this good (what- 
ever else may be its nature) has always the character of an end. 
The moral good is an end in itself, is to be pursued for its 
own sake. It must not be made a means to something not 
itself. We have now seen further that pleasure is not the good, 
is not the end; that, in pursuing pleasure as such, we do not 
pursue the good. Hedonism we have dismissed and may banish 
it, if we please, from our sight, while we turn to develop a new 
view of the good, another answer to the question, What is the 
end? In Hedonism we have criticized a one-sided view; we shall 
have to do here with an opposite extremity of one-sidedness. The 
self to be realized before was the self or selves as a maximum 
quantity or number of particular feelings. In the theory which 
awaits us, the self to be realized has a defect which is diametrically 
opposed to the first, and yet is the same defect. Its fault is the 
opposite, since for mere particular it substitutes mere universal; 
we have not to do with feelings, as this and that, but with a form 
which is thought of as not this or that. Its fault is the same 
fault — the failing to see things as a whole, and the fixing as 
real one element which yet is unreal when apart from the other. 
In a word, we find in both a one-sided view, and their common 
vice may be called abstractness. So much by way of anticipation; 
and now we must betake ourselves to our task. 

What is the moral end?" We know already in part what it is 
not. It is not a state or collection of states of the self, as feeling 
pleasure, to be produced either in me or outside me. To know 

^ What follows, the reader must be warned, is very far from being meant 
to be a statement of Kant's main ethical view; as such it would be neither 
complete nor accurate, though it will be found to be an applicable criticism. 
We could not give a statement of Kant's view without giving all the 
sides of it; and, were we prepared to do that, not only would considerable 


82 Ethical Studies 

what it is we must go to the moral consciousness. We find there 
that the end is for me as active, is a practical end. It is not 
something merely to be felt, it is something to be done. 

And it is not something to be done, in which, when done, the 
doer is not to be involved. The end does not fall outside the 
doer. I am to realize myself; and, as we saw, I cannot make an 
ultimate end of anything except myself, cannot make myself a 
mere means to something else. Nor, again, does the end fall 
outside the activity. If the production in me of a mere passive 
state were the end, the activity would be a mere means to that. 
But the moral consciousness assures us that the activity is an 
end in itself. The end is a doing which is to be done; the 
activity is good in itself, not for the sake of a result beyond. The 
end, then, is not to be felt, but is to be done; it is to be done and 
not made; it falls not outside the self of the doer, nor further 
outside his activity. 

In short, the good is the Good Will. The end is will for the 
sake of will; and, in its relation to me, it is the realization of the 
good will in myself, or of myself as the good will. In this 
character I am an end to myself, and I am an absolute and 
ultimate end. There is nothing which is good unless it be a 
good will. 

This is no metaphysical fiction. It is the truth of life and of 
the moral consciousness. A man is not called good because he is 
rich, nor because he is handsome or clever. He is good when he 
is moral, and he is moral when his actions are conformed to and 
embody a good will, or when his will is good. 

But "good will" tells us little or nothing. It says only that will 
is the end. It does not say what will is the end; and we want to 
know what the good will is. 

What is the good will? We may call it indifferently the free 
will or the universal will, or the autonomous will, or finally the 
formal will. 

space be required, but also we should be obliged to consider topics which 
lie outside our present undertaking. We have stated a view for purposes of 
criticism, but that criticism is at the same time a criticism that holds against 
more than our statement. 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 83 

(1) It is the universal will. The very notion of the moral end 
is that it should be an end absolutely, not conditionally. It is not 
an end for me without being one also for you, or for you and me 
and not for a third person ; but it is, without limitation to any this 
or that, an end for us all. And so the will, as end, is not the par- 
ticular will of particular men, existing as this, that, and the other 
series of states of mind. It is the same for you and me and in 
the character of our common standard and aim it is above you 
and me. It is thus objective and universal. 

(2) It is the free will. It is not conditioned by, it does not owe 
its existence and attributes to, it is not made what it is by, and 
hence it cannot (properly speaking) be called forth by, anything 
which is not itself. It exists because of itself and for the sake of 
itself. It has no end or aim beyond itself, is not constituted or 
determined by anything else. 

Hence we see it is not determined by anything in particular. 
For, as we saw, it was universal, and universal means not par- 
ticular; and so no more than a verbal conclusion is wanted to 
show that, if determined by something particular, it would be 
determined by something not itself. And this we have already 
taken to be false. 

(3) It is autonomous. For it is universal and an end to itself. 
The good will is the will which wills the universal as itself and 
itself as the universal, and hence may be said to be a law to itself 
and to will its own law. And, because it is universal, hence in 
willing what is valid for itself it wills what is valid for all. It 
legislates universally in legislating for itself, since it would not 
legislate for itself did it not legislate universally. 

(4) And lastly, it is formal. For, in willing itself, it wills the 
universal, and that is not-particular. Any possible object of 
desire, any wished-for event, any end in the shape of a result to 
be attained in the particular existence of myself or another, all are 
this or that something — they have a content, they are "material." 
Only that will is good which wills itself as not-particular, as 
without content or matter, in a word, which wills itself as form. 

The good will, then, is the will which is determined by the 
form only, which realizes itself as the bare form of the will. 

84 Ethical Studies 

And this formal will is now seen to be the true expression for 
all the foregoing characteristics of universality, freedom, and 
autonomy. In formality we see they are all one. 1 am autonomous 
only because I am free, free only because I am universal, universal 
only because not particular, and not particular only when formal. 

That the good must be formal we might have seen by considering 
its character of an universal standard or test. Such a standard is 
a form or it is nothing. It is to be above every possible this and 
that, and hence cannot be any this or that. It is by being not 
this or that, that it succeeds in having nothing which is not 
common to every this and that. Otherwise there would be some- 
thing which would fall without its sphere; it would be only one 
thing among others, and so would no longer be a standard. But 
that which can be common to everything is not matter or content, 
but form only. As no material test of truth, so no material test 
of morality is possible. 

The good will, then, is the bare form of the will, and this is the 
end. This is what I have to realize, and realize in myself. But 
I am not a mere form; I have an "empirical" nature, a series of 
particular states of the "this me," a mass of desires, aversions, 
inclinations, passions, pleasures, and pains, what we may call a 
sensuous self. It is in this self that all content, all matte/, all 
possible filling of the form must be sought; for all matter must 
come from "experience," must be given in and through the per- 
ception of the outer world or of the series of my own internal 
states, and is in either case sensuous and the opposite of the 
insensible form. 

The "empirical" self, the this me, is, no less than the self which 
is formal will, an element of the moral subject. These elements are 
antithetical the one to the other; and hence the realization of the 
form is possible only through an antagonism, an opposition which 
has to be overcome. It is this conflict and this victory in which 
the essence of morality lies. Morality is the activity of the formal 
self forcing the sensuous self, and here first can we attach a 
meaning to the words "ought" and "duty."^ 

^ In a lower sense we can use, and do use, "ought" outside the moral world. 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 85 

If our self were nothing beyond the series of its states, if it were 
nothing above and beyond these coexistent and successive pheno- 
mena, then the word "ought" could have no meaning. And again, 
if our self were a pure, unalloyed will, realizing itself apart from 
a sensuous element, the word "ought" would still be meaningless. 
It is the antagonism of the two elements in one subject which is 
the essence of the ought. The ought is a command; it expresses 
something which neither simply is or is not, but which both is and 
is not — something, in short, which is to be. Further, when ad- 
dressed to myself, it puts before me something which is to be 
done and which I am to do. A command is the doing of something 
by me, which doing is willed by a will, not me, and presented as 
such by that will to me.' In the ought the self is commanded and 
that self is the sensuous self in me, which is ordered, and which, 
if I obey, is forced by the nonsensuous formal will which stands 
above the empirical element, and, equally with that, is myself. 
The ought is the command of the formal will, and duty is the 
obedience or, more properly, the compulsion of the lower self by 
that will, or the realization of the form in and against the recal- 
citrant matter of the desires. 

Duty must be for duty's sake, or it is not duty. It is not enough 
that my acts should realize and embody the universal form, and so 
far be conformable thereto. It is not enough that the act com- 
manded be done by me. The end, as we have seen, is not a 
result beyond and outside the activity. It is not the realizedness 
of the form which is the good, but rather the realization of it, 
because only as active is it negative, only as negative is it real. 

Wherever "law" has a meaning, "ought" has also a meaning. Where the 
particular phenomenon does not answer to its conception, we say "ought." 
"A man (e. g.) 'ought' to have two eyes." "Ice of that thickness 'ought' to 
have borne." Something has interfered in the case so that the fact is not 
an exhibition of the law. But the moral "ought" means much more than 
this. There the particular fact or phenomenon is this or that will, which, 
moreover, is or can be aware of its position as such in relation to the law or 
general conception. This makes an enormous diflference. 

' A command may contain a promise or threat. It is not of its essence 
that it should do so. 

86 Ethical Studies 

And further, the good is not merely the realization of the form by 
a foreign subject, but its own realization of itself by itself. That 
does not take place unless the act ordered to be done in the field 
of the lower self is done by me in the character of the formal self. 
If that is so, I must know that it is so ; and if I do not know that 
it is so, then it is not so. Duty is not duty unless, in every case 
and in every act, it is consciously done for the sake of duty, and 
that means for the sake of the realization of the bare form, and of 
nothing whatever beside the bare form. And hence we see that 
an act done from pleasure in or desire for the bare form can in 
no case be dutiful; for that would be the lower nature, for some 
liking of its own, choosing to realize the form ; it could not be the 
form realizing itself; and hence such an act is not in any degree 
moral, since in no degree does it attain the end. The lower self 
in morality is not led, nor coaxed, nor consulted, but forced. 

Here again we appeal to the moral consciousness to bear testi- 
mony to our conclusion. Every moral man knows that to do 
right is to do one's duty for its own sake, and that, if duty is done 
for the sake of some ulterior object, that act may be legal but is 
certainly not moral. 

Having found ourselves in accord with practical morality, and 
resting on the conclusion that no act is moral except that which 
is consciously done for the sake of the universal form, we have 
now to state the rule which is to guide our practice in life and 
which is too simple to occasion any trouble in the working. We 
have to realize the good will, the will that is an end in itself, and 
that is universally valid; and, as we saw, these characteristics are 
summed up in formality. The standard, we saw, must be formal; 
it must exclude all possible content because content is diversity; 
and hence the residue left to us for a standard is plainly identity, 
the identity which excludes diversity; and of this we can say only 
that it is, and that it does not contradict itself. Our practical 
maxim, then, is. Realize noncontradiction. Realize, i.e., act and 
keep acting; do not contradict yourself, i.e., let all your acts 
embody and realize the principle of noncontradiction; for so 
only can you realize the formal will which is the good will. What- 
ever act embodies a self-contradiction is immoral. Whatever act 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 87 

is self-consistent is legal. Whatever act is self-consistent and is 
done for the sake of realizing self-consistency, and for the sake of 
nothing else, is moral. This is simple, this is practical; and there 
surely is cause for thankfulness in the arrangement of things which 
has placed the standard and test of all that is most important, of 
everything which really is important, in a form which even the 
unlettered can understand and a child can apply. 

Stated* as we have stated above, the theory of duty for duty's 
sake carries with it little or no plausibility. Criticism of it may 
appear to the reader to be superfluous, but nevertheless it will 
repay us to see briefly set forth the inner contradictions in which 
it loses itself, and which destroy its claim to practical value. 

The theory contradicts itself and, reduced to a simple form, 
the contradiction is as follows: self-realization is the end, and 
the self to be realized is the negative of reality; we are to realize, 
and must produce nothing real. Let us explain. The good is 
the will. The will is the carrying of the inner mind out into the 
world of fact; it is the identity of thought and existence, the 
process in which the ideal passes over into reality, and where the 
content on both sides is the same, subject always to the diversity 
of the two different elements. Mere thought is not will — that is 
the inner side only. Mere existence in time and space, or time, 
is not will — that is the outside only. For will we want both sides, 
and both sides in one. And from the above we see at once 
that, if the two sides are to correspond, there must be some cor- 
respondence in the nature of what they contain; and, starting here 
from the side of existence, we may say, you can realize nothing 
unless that which you are to realize have in it already the char- 
acter which distinguishes reality. 

To realize means to translate an ideal content into existence, 
whether it be the existence of a series of events in time only, as 

* As I said before, this is not a statement of the Kantian view; that view 
is far wider, and at the same time more confused. As a system it has been 
annihilated by Hegel's criticism (I, 335, ff.; and II, 437, ff.), to which I 
owe most of the following. Compare also Schopenhauer, Die beiden Grand- 
probleme der Ethik (1881), 117-178. But the reader must bear in mind 
that only I am responsible for what I say. 

88 Ethical Studies 

in mere psychical acts, or existence both in space and time, as is 
the case in all outward acts.^ 

Neither to give a proper definition of the real, nor to discuss 
the nature of existence in space and time, and its relation to 
thought in general, and in particular to human thought, even 
were I competent to do it, would be possible here. But I do 
not suppose I shall find much contradiction if I say that the pre- 
dominant character of existence in space and time is, in one word, 
its particularness, what is ordinarily called its concreteness, the 
infinitude of its relations. An existing thing and the mere thought 
of a thing are not the same, if that be taken to mean that there 
is no difference between them; and, especially in morals, the 
distance between theory and fact is as immeasurable as the dis- 
tance between what is thought and what is willed, between a 
definition and the thing defined. As I have said before, we cannot 
go into these fundamental questions, but so much seems clear — 
that, as against a theory, definition, or abstract principle, the 
main character of existence in space and time is the endless 
detail of its particular - relations. You cannot particularize a 
definition so as to exhaust any sensible object, since that object 
stands in relation to every other thing in the world. 

Let us say then that to realize (whatever else it is beside) is at 
least to particularize, and we shall see how the theory of duty for 
duty's sake contradicts itself. (1) It says you are not to do what 
it says you are to do; what you have to effect is the negation of 
the particular; and so it says in a breath, realize and do not 
realize. (2) It gives you no content; and that which has no con- 
tent cannot be willed since in volition we must have the same 
content on each side. (3) Psychically considered, an act of will 
is a particular act and hence a formal act of will is impossible. 

To explain : ( 1 ) You are to realize the good will and that means 
the formal will, or the universal will. But universal means the 

° This is true of course only so long as psychical events are considered 
simply as such. Every psychical state has also, I suppose, its existence in 
space. In this connection let me add in passing, that whether the will has 
direct control over the thoughts or not is an open question in psychology. 
It is indifferent to us here what answer be given. 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 89 

opposite of particular. "Realize the particular" means, realize the 
opposite of the universal; and so, if you particularize the universal, 
you have not realized it, i. e., not the universal you had to realize; 
or, in other words, if you materialize the form, it is no longer 
formal. On the other hand, "realize" means materialize, it means 
particularize. "Realize" asserts the concrete identity of matter 
and form which "formal will" denies; and we are left with the 
hopeless contradiction of an order, which tells us in one breath 
that only the formal (i. e., the not-ieaX) will is good, and that for 
the sake of the good we are to realize {i. e., unformalize) the 
formal will. 

Or less abstractly, we have two elements in one subject — the 
sensuous nature and the pure will. The pure will is to be kept 
pure; it is for its sake that we act, and action consists in the 
forcing of the sensuous nature. The order is here, "Realize 
the pure will in the sensuous nature," and the contradiction is as 
above. The pure will means the nonsensuous will, and "realize 
it" means translate it into an element which destroys its essence. 
The formal will when realized is no longer formal, is material- 
ized, is sensualized, is no longer pure. If you do not want 
to sensualize the will, why do you say make it real? What is 
the use and meaning of realizing? Or if you say the will is and 
means realization, then do you not see that the will means the 
identity of the pure and sensuous nature, that it implies the two 
sides, and that "formal will" says, "have both sides, but be sure 
you have only one"; or, more briefly, that pure or formal will is 

In its simplest form the contradiction is this. "Realize noncon- 
tradiction" is the order. But "noncontradiction" = bare form; 
"realize" = give content to; content contradicts form without 
content; and so "realize noncontradiction" means "realize a con- 

(2) In our remarks on the self-contradiction of the principle, 
its abstract negation of reality on the one side and its demand 

* The hopeless inconsistencies of the dualistic moral theory, the standing 
contradictions of its moral theology and practical postulates generally, are 

90 Ethical Studies 

for realization on the other, we have perhaps rendered further 
detail needless; but it may be instructive to repeat more specially 
the general refutation. 

We saw that an act of will has two sides, an inner and an outer, 
what (in one meaning of these much misused terms) we may 
call a "subjective" and an "objective" side. There is a certain 
content which on one side is to be done, on the other side is done. 
The killing of a man, for instance, is not, properly speaking, 
an act of my will unless I meant to kill him and did kill him. 
Neither the mere movement of my body, nor the mere thought of 
my mind, constitutes an act.' 

There are two sides and on each side the content is the same. 
The doing what one wills is acting, and nothing else is acting. 
The act is the process of translation from the inside world to the 
outside world (or from the thought to the fact of an event in 
the inside world) , and the translation would not be a translation 
unless it implied the identity of the translated. 

The immediate corollary from this is that no act can be the 
mere carrying out of an abstract principle. The content on each 
side must be the same, and it is at once obvious that no abstrac- 
tion is a content which is capable of real existence. To take 
its place in the outward world, the principle must be specialized 
into a concrete individual which can then be carried over into 
existence in time and space. Hence, on the inside (the "subjec- 
tive" side), the abstraction must have become concrete and in 
itself have two sides, be in short individualized; or else there is 
no possibility of action, because nothing that can be carried over.' 

beyond our subject. The whole point of view has been criticized in the 
second of the passages from Hegel referred to above. 

We may remark in passing a contradiction involved in the doctrine of the 
imperative. A command is addressed by one will to another and must be 
obeyed, if at all, by the second will. But here the will that is commanded 
is not the will that executes; hence the imperative is never obeyed and, as 
it is not to produce action in that to which it is addressed, it is a mere 

' This statement is subject to the qualifications mentioned in Essay I, p. 7. 
® Our statement must not be taken to deny the possibility of the will 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 91 

Everybody knows that the only way to do your duty is to do 
your duties; that general doing good may mean doing no good 
in particular, and so none at all, but rather perhaps the contrary 
of good. Everybody knows that the setting out, whether in 
religion, morals, or politics, with the intent to realize an abstrac- 
tion, is a futile endeavor; and that what it comes to is that either 
you do nothing at all, or that the particular content which is 
necessary for action is added to the abstraction by the chance of 
circumstances or caprice. Everybody suspects, if they do not feel 
sure, that the acting consciously on and from abstract principles 
means self-deceit or hypocrisy or both. 

(3) A more psychological consideration leads us still to the 
futility of duty for duty's sake. A will which does not act is no 
will, and every act is a particular event; an act is this or that act, 
and an act in general is nonsense. But how can a formal act 
be this or that act? Even where the abstraction has been 
specialized into definite "material" ends and aims to be accom- 
plished, yet even there for the particular volition the special 
circumstances of time, place, etc., are wanted. They may not be 
essential to the act; they may make no practical difference to the 
content. If I have resolved to kill a man in a certain way, the 
place, time, etc., are psychically necessary for the particular 
act of killing, but they may not enter into the essence of the act. 
(So it is with one's ordinary duties.) The more specialized and 
materialized the previous intent, the less is added to it by the 
particular circumstances; and the less specialized the content, 
the more is added. If I run out into the street to kill a man, 
chance* decides who it is I kill. So with duty. If I intend to 
do duty generally, chance decides what duty I do; for what falls 
outside the preconceived intent is chance, and here everything 
falls outside saving the bare form. 

To act you must will something, and something definite. To 
will in general is impossible, and to will in particular is never to 

having a content which is merely this or that. We say nothing about that 
because we are not concerned with it. 

* Chance, that is to say, relatively to my intent; because my intent does 
not essentially involve the particular person killed. 

92 Ethical Studies 

will nothing but a form. It must at best be to will a chance case 
of the form, and then (speaking psychologically) what moves is 
chance (desire). The bare form cannot move. Will, when one 
wills nothing in particular, is a pure fiction; and (to put the same 
thing differently) so is will without desire, conscious or uncon- 
scious, special or habitual. It is simply a psychological monster. 
It is admitted that, if real, it is inexplicable; it is admitted to be 
in no single case verifiable; and surely Schopenhauer {op. cit. 
p. 168) is not wrong when he says that, if what is neither 
conceivable nor to be found in experience is not incredible, then 
nothing is incredible. If any theory requires such a supposition 
then that proves the theory to be false. 

We have shown that a formal will is self-contradictory since the 
essence of will is that it should not be formal. Duty for duty's 
sake is false and impossible. It may not be superfluous to show 
in addition that even if such a principle of action were possible 
yet it would be worthless and of no avail for practice. 

The maxim of noncontradiction is useless. We have seen 
that it contradicts itself, since it posits a content which is the con- 
tradiction of its bare form; but apart from that it gives us no 
information. What am I to do? "Produce a tautology" is the 
answer. "Everything which contradicts itself is wrong. Every- 
thing which is tautological is right. Nothing which is tautological 
is wrong." Then what does contradict itself? Everything in one 
sense; nothing in another. 

The principle of noncontradiction does not mean Do not con- 
tradict yourself; produce a harmony, a system in your acts and 
yourself; realize yourself as an organic whole. That would be 
vague enough without further directions, but what our principle 
here says is not that. It says the act must not contradict itself. 
What does this mean? It means that the matter realized, the 
determination posited by the act, must be self-consistent. Pro- 
perty e. g. is self-consistent. Theft of property is a contradiction. 

In the first place, however, is any determination free from con- 
tradiction? Take what you will, you must take something defi- 
nite, and the definite is what it is by the negation of something 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 93 

else. It belongs to the essence of any possible A that it should 
be not B, C, D, etc., and without this negation it would not be A. 
A mere positive affirmative is a fictitious abstraction. "Affirm A" 
means "negate B, C, D, etc." Property e. g. implies in its appro- 
priation a negation, an exclusion. In this sense not only is the 
definite content in contradiction with the form, but it also in 
itself involves contradiction. 

This, however, is not the meaning of the rule of noncontradic- 
tion. The meaning of that is that you must not posit a determi- 
nation and with it its own negation. You must not have an act 
which embodies the rule to negate anything, for that is a self- 
contradiction. A rule "negate A" contradicts itself, for if A is 
negated you cannot negate it. "Steal property" is a contradic- 
tion, for it destroys property and with it possibility of theft. 

We have no need here to push further a metaphysical argument 
against this view, for it supplies us at once with a crushing instance 
against itself. The essence of morality was a similar contradic- 
tion.^" "Negate the sensuous self." But if the sensuous self is 
negated, possibility of morality disappears. Morality is thus 
as inconsistent as theft. "Succor the poor" both negates and 
presupposes (hence posits) poverty: as Blake comically says, 

Pity would be no more. 

If we did not make somebody poor. 

If you are to love your enemies you must never be without them; 
and yet you try to get rid of them. Is that consistent? In short, 
every duty which presupposes something to be negated is no 
duty; it is an immoral rule because self -contradictory. 

No rule must be stated negatively then, but all positively; and 
then comes the very serious question whether there is any rule 
which can not be stated positively. The canon is an empty form, 
"Let A be A." It is a tautology; and it requires no great skill to 
put anything and everything into the form of a tautology, and so 
to moralize it. "Let property be," "let no property be"; "let 

^° Hegel (loc. cit.) pushes this ruthlessly even against the postulate of im- 
mortality. In what immediately follows we are drawing from him very 

94 Ethical Studies 

law be," "let no law be"; "let love be," "let hate be"; "be brave," 
"be cowardly"; "be kind," "be cruel," "be indifferent"; "let 
succor be," "let no succor be"; or riches, or poverty, or pleasure, 
or pain. Where is the canon? It is nowhere. Poverty is 
poverty and is an aflErmative tautology. Hate is hate, as much as 
love is love. They become contradictory only when you say, 
"hate your friends," or "love your enemies"; or when, instead of 
affirming, you analyze them and see that each is the affirmation 
of a negation, or the negation of an affirmation. Hate we can all 
see is so, and deeper thinkers tell us the same of love. 

What duty for duty's sake really does is first to posit a deter- 
mination, such as property, love, courage, etc., and then to say that 
whatever contradicts these is wrong. And since the principle is 
a formal empty universal, there is no connection between it and 
the content which is brought under it. That connection is made 
from the outside and rests on arbitrary choice, or considerations 
of general well-being and perhaps pleasure. The morality of pure 
duty turns out then to be either something like a Hedonistic rule," 
or no rule at all save the. hypocritical maxim that before you do 
what you like you should call it duty, and this outdoes Probabilism. 

Thus to get from the form of duty to particular duties is im- 
possible. The particular duties must be taken for granted, as in 
ordinary morality they are taken for granted. But supposing this 
done, is duty for duty's sake a valid formula in the sense that we 
are to act always on a law and nothing but a law, and that a law 
can have no exceptions, in the sense of particular cases where it is 
overruled? No, this takes for granted that life is so simple that 
we never have to consider more than one duty at a time; where- 
as we really have to do with conflicting duties, which as a rule 
escape conflict simply because it is understood which have to 
give way. It is a mistake to suppose that collision of duties is 
uncommon; it has been remarked truly that every act can be 
taken to involve such collision. 

To put the question plainly — It is clear that in a given case I 
may have several duties, and that I may be able to do only one. 

^^ Schopenhauer has some characteristic and piquant criticism on this head. 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 95 

I must then break some "categorical" law, and the question the 
ordinary man puts to himself is, Which duty am I to do? He 
would say, "all duties have their limits and are subordinated one 
to another. You cannot put them all in the form of your 'cate- 
gorical imperative' (in the shape of a law absolute and dependent 
on nothing beside itself) without such exceptions and modifica- 
tions that, in many cases, you might as well have left it alone 
altogether. We certainly have laws but we may not be able to 
follow them all at once, and to know which we are to follow is 
a matter of good sense which cannot be decided any other way. 
One should give to the poor — in what cases and how much? 
Should sacrifice oneself — in what way and within what limits? 
Should not indulge one's appetites — except when it is right. Should 
not idle away one's time — except when one takes one's pleasure. 
Nor neglect one's work — but for some good reason. All these 
points we admit are in one way matter of law; but if you think 
to decide in particular cases by applying some 'categorical 
imperative,' you must be a pedant, if not a fool." 

Ordinary morality does not hold to each of its laws as inviolable, 
each as an absolute end in itself. It is not even aware of a colli- 
sion in most cases where duties clash; and, where it perceives it, 
and is confronted with collisions of moral laws, each of which 
it has been accustomed to look on as an absolute monarch, so to 
speak, or a commander-in-chief, rather than a possible subordinate 
officer, there it does subordinate one to the other, and feels 
uneasiness only in proportion to the rarity of the necessity, and 
the consequent jar to the feelings. There are few laws a breach 
of which (in obedience to a higher law) morality does not allow, 
and I believe there are none which are not to be broken in 
conceivable (imaginable) circumstances, though the necessity of 
deciding the question does not practically occur. According to 
ordinary morality (the fact is too palpable to be gainsaid), it is 
quite right to speak falsely with intent to deceive under certain 
circumstances, though ordinary morality might add, "I don't call 
that a lie." It is a lie; and when Kant and others maintained that 
it must always be wrong to lie, they forgot the rather important 
fact that in some cases to abstain from acting 15 acting, is wilful 

96 Ethical Studies 

neglect of a duty, and that there are duties above truth-speaking, 
and many offenses against morality which are worse, though they 
may be less painful, than a lie. So to kill oneself in a manner 
which must be called suicide may not only be right but heroic;^'' 
homicide may be excusable, rebellion in the subject and dis- 
obedience in the soldier all morally justifiable, and every one of 
them clear breaches of categorical imperatives, in obedience to a 
higher law. 

All that it comes to is this (and it is, we must remember, a very 
important truth) , that you must never break a law of duty to please 
yourself, never for the sake of an end not duty, but only for the 
sake of a superior and overruling duty. Any breach of duty, as 
duty and not as lower duty, is always and absolutely wrong ; but it 
would be rash to say that any one act must be in all cases abso- 
lutely and unconditionally immoral. Circumstances decide be- 
cause circumstances determine the manner in which the overruling 
duty must be realized. This is a simple fact which by the candid 
observer cannot be denied, and which is merely the exposition 
of the moral consciousness, though I am fully aware that it is an 
exposition which that consciousness would not accept, simply 
because it must necessarily misunderstand it in its abstract form. 
And if moral theory were meant to influence moral practice and 
to be dabbled in by "the vulgar" (and there are not so many 
persons who in this respect are not the vulgar), then I grant this 
is a fact it would be well to keep in the background. None the 
less it is a fact." 

So we see "duty for duty's sake" says only, "do the right for the 

^* The story of the imprisoned Italian who, knowing that he was being 
drugged to disorder his intellect and cause him to betray his comrades, opened 
a vein, is a good instance. It is a duty for various persons continually to 
give themselves to certain or well-nigh certain death, and no one has ever 
called it anything but heroically right and dutiful. Excusable killing is 
illustrated by the well-known story told in the Indian Mutiny of the husband 
who killed his wife. Rebellions and mutinies need no illustration. It is 
noticeable that Berkeley urged passive obedience on the ground that a 
moral law was absolute. 

^' We shall come upon this again in Essays V and VI. 

Duty's for Duty's Sake 97 

sake of the right"; it does not tell us what right is; or "realize a 
good will, do what a good will would do, for the sake of being 
yourself a good will." And that is something, but beyond that 
it is silent or beside the mark. It tells us to act for the sake of 
a form, which we saw was a self -contradictory command; and we 
even saw that in sober sadness the form did exist for form's sake, 
and in literal truth remained only a form. We saw that duty's 
universal laws are not universal if that means they can never be 
overruled, and that its form and its absolute imperative are im- 
practicable. What after all remains is the acting for the sake of a 
good will, to realize oneself by realizing the will which is above 
us and higher than ours; and the assurance that this, and not the 
self to be pleased, is the end for which we have to live. But as 
to that which the good will is, it tells us nothing, and leaves us 
with an idle abstraction. 


"^77 E have traversed by this time, however cursorily, a consider- 
able field, and so far it might appear without any issue or 
at best with a merely negative result. Certainly in our anticipatory 
remarks (Essay II), we thought we found some answer to the 
question, What is the end? But that answer was too abstract to 
stand by itself. And, if we may be said to know thus much, that 
the end is self-realization, yet at present we do not seem to have 
learned anything about the self to be realized. And the detail of 
Essays II and III appears at most to have given us some knowl- 
edge of that which self-realization is not. 

We have learned that the self to be realized is not the self as this 
or that feeling, or as any series of the particular feelings of our 
own or others' streams or trains of consciousness. It is, in short, 
not the self to be pleased. The greatest sum of units of pleasure 
we found to be the idea of a mere collection, whereas, if we wanted 
morality, it was something like a universal that we wanted. 
Happiness, as the effort to construct that universal by the addi- 
tion of particulars, gave us a futile and bastard product which 
carried its self-destruction within it, in the continual assertion 
of its own universality, together with its unceasing actual particu- 
larity and finitude; so that happiness was, if we chose, nowhere 
not realized; or again, if we chose, not anywhere realizable. And 
passing then to the opposite pole, to the universal as the negative 
of the particulars, to the supposed pure will or duty for duty's 
sake, we found that too was an unreal conception. It was a mere 
form which, to be will, must give itself a content, and which could 
give itself a content only at the cost of a self-contradiction. We 
saw, further, that any such content was in addition arbitrarily 
postulated and that, even then, the form was either never realized, 
because real in no particular content, or always and everywhere 
realized, because equally reconcilable with any content. And so, 
as before with happiness, we perceived that morality could have no 
existence if it meant anything more than the continual assevera- 


My Station And Its Duties 99 

tion of an empty formula. And, if we had chosen, we might 
have gone on to exhibit the falsity of asceticism, to see that the 
self cannot be realized as its own mere negation, since morality 
is practice, is will to do something, is self-aflBrmation ; and that a 
will to deny one's will is not self-realization, but rather is, strictly 
speaking, a psychical impossibility, a self-contradictory illusion. 
And the possibility, again, of taking as the self to be realized the 
self which I happen to have, my natural being, and of making 
life the end of life in the sense that each should live his life as he 
happens to find it in his own nature, has been precluded before- 
hand by the result derived from the consideration of the moral 
consciousness, viz., that morality implies a superior, a higher self, 
or at all events a universal something which is above this or that 
self and so above mine. And, to complete the account of our 
negations, we saw further, with respect to duty for duty's sake, that 
even were it possible (as it is not) to create a content from the 
formula and to elaborate in this manner a system of duties, yet 
even then the practice required by the theory would be impossible, 
and so too morality, since in practice particular duties must collide 
and the collision of duties, if we hold to duty for duty's sake, is the 
destruction of all duty save the unrealized form of duty in general. 
But let us view this result, which seems so unsatisfactory, from 
the positive side; let us see after all with what we are left. We 
have self-realization left as the end, the self so far being defined as 
neither a collection of particular feelings nor an abstract universal. 
The self is to be realized as something not simply one or the other; 
it is to be realized further as will, will not being merely the natural 
will, or the will as it happens to exist and finds itself here or there, 
but the will as the good will, i. e., the will that realizes an end 
which is above this or that man, superior to them, and capable of 
confronting them in the shape of a law or an ought. This 
superior something further, which is a possible law or ought to the 
individual man, does not depend for its existence on his choice or 
opinion. Either there is no morality, so says the moral conscious- 
ness, or moral duties exist independently of their position by this 
or that person — my duty may be mine and no other man's, but I 
do not make it mine. If it is duty, it would be the duty of any 

100 Ethical Studies 

person in my case and condition, whether they thought so or not — 
in a word, duty is "objective," in the sense of not being contingent 
on the opinion or choice of this or that subject. 

What we have left then (to resume it) is this — the end is the 
realization of the good will which is superior to ourselves; and 
again the end is self-realization. Bringing these together we see 
the end is the realization of ourselves as the will which is above 
ourselves. And this will (if morality exists) we saw must be 
"objective," because not dependent on "subjective" liking; and 
"universal," because not identifiable with any particular, but 
standing above all actual and possible particulars. Further, though 
universal it is not abstract since it belongs to its essence that it 
should be realized, and it has no real existence except in and 
through its particulars. The good will (for morality) is meaning- 
less, if, whatever else it be, it be not the will of living human 
beings. It is a concrete universal because it not only is above but 
is within and throughout its details, and is so far only as they are. 
It is the life which can live only in and by them, as they are dead 
unless within it; it is the whole soul which lives so far as the body 
lives, which makes the body a living body and which without the 
body is as unreal an abstraction as the body without it. It is an 
organism and a moral organism; and it is conscious self-realiza- 
tion because only by the will of its self-conscious members can 
the moral organism give itself reality. It is the self-realization of 
the whole body because it is one and the same will which lives 
and acts in the life and action of each. It is the self-realization 
of each member because each member cannot find the function 
which makes him himself, apart from the whole to which he 
belongs; to be himself he must go beyond himself, to live his life 
he must live a life which is not merely his own, but which, none 
the less, but on the contrary all the more, is intensely and em- 
phatically his own individuality. Here, and here first, are the 
contradictions which have beset us solved — here is a universal 
which can confront our wandering desires with a fixed and stern 
imperative, but which yet is no unreal form of the mind but a 
living soul that penetrates and stands fast in the detail of actual 
existence. It is real, and real for me. It is in its affirmation that 

My Station And Its Duties 101 

I afl&rm myself, for I am but as a "heart-beat in its system." And 
I am real in it, for, when I give myself to it, it gives me the 
fruition of my own personal activity, the accomplished ideal of 
my life which is happiness. In the realized idea which, superior 
to me and yet here and now in and by me, affirms itself in a 
continuous process, we have found the end, we have found self- 
realization, duty, and happiness in one — yes, we have found 
ourselves when we have found our station and its duties, our 
function as an organ in the social organism. 

"Mere rhetoric," we shall be told, "a bad metaphysical dream, 
a stale old story once more warmed up, which cannot hold its 
own against the logic of facts. That the state was prior to the 
individual, that the whole was sometimes more than the sum of 
the parts, was an illusion which preyed on the thinkers of Greece. 
But that illusion has been traced to its source and dispelled and 
is in plain words exploded. The family, society, the state, and 
generally every community of men consists of individuals, and 
there is nothing in them real except the individuals. Individuals 
have made them, and make them, by placing themselves and by 
standing in certain relations. The individuals are real by them- 
selves and it is because of them that the relations are real. They 
make them, they are real in them, not because of them, and they 
would be just as real out of them. The whole is the mere sum of 
the parts, and the parts are as real away from the whole as they 
are within the whole. Do you really suppose that the individual 
would perish if every form of community were destroyed? Do 
you think that anything real answers to the phrases of universal 
and organism? Everything is in the organism what it is out, and 
the universal is a name, the existing fact answering to which is 
particular persons in such and such relations. To put the matter 
shortly, the community is the sum of its parts, is made by the 
addition of parts, and the parts are as real before the addition as 
after; the relations they stand in do not make them what they are, 
but are accidental, not essential, to their being; and, as to the 
whole, if it is not a name for the individuals that compose it, it is 
a name of nothing actual. These are not metaphysical dreams. 
They are facts and verifiable facts." 

102 Ethical Studies 

Are they facts? Facts should explain facts; and the view 
called "individualism" (because the one reality that it believes in 
is the "individual," in the sense of this, that, and the other par- 
ticular) should hence be the right explanation. What are the facts 
here to be explained? They are human communities, the family, 
society, and the state. Individualism has explained them long ago. 
They are "collections" held together by force, illusion, or contract. 
It has told the story of their origin and to its own satisfaction 
cleared the matter up. Is the explanation satisfactory and verifi- 
able? That would be a bold assertion when historical science 
has rejected and entirely discredited the individualistic origin of 
society, and when, if we turn to practice, we find everywhere the 
state asserting itself as a power which has, and, if need be, asserts 
the right to make use of and expend the property and person of 
the individual without regard to his wishes, and which, moreover, 
may destroy his life in punishment, and put forth other powers 
such as no theory of contract will explain except by the most 
palpable fictions, while at the same time no ordinary person calls 
their morality in question. Both history and practical politics 
refuse to verify the "facts" of the individualist; and we should 
find still less to confirm his theory if we examined the family. 

If, then, apart from metaphysic one looks at the history and 
present practice of society, these would not appear to establish the 
"fact" that the individual is the one reality and communities mere 
collections. "For all that," we shall be told, "it is the truth." 
True that is, I suppose, not as fact but as metaphysic; and this is 
what one finds too often with those who deride metaphysic and 
talk most of facts. Their minds, so far as such a thing may be, 
are not seldom mere "collective unities" of metaphysical dogmas. 
They decry any real metaphysic because they dimly feel that their 
own will not stand criticism; and they appeal to facts because 
while their metaphysic stands they feel they need not be afraid of 
them. When their view is pushed as to plain realities, such as 
the nature of gregarious animals, the probable origin of mankind 
from them, the institutions of early society, actual existing com- 
munities with the common type impressed on all their members, 
their organic structure and the assertion of the whole body as of 

My Station And Its Duties 103 

paramount importance in comparison with any of the members, 
then they must fall back on their metaphysic. And the point we 
wish here to emphasize is this, that their metaphysic is mere dog- 
matism. It is assumed, not proved. It has a right to no refutation, 
for assertion can demand no more than counter-assertion; and 
what is affirmed on the one side we on the other side can simply 
deny, and we intend to do so here. 

A discussion that would go to the bottom of the question, What 
is an individual? is certainly wanted. It would certainly be de- 
sirable, showing first what an individual is, to show then that 
"individualism" has not apprehended that, but taken an abstrac- 
tion for reality. But, if I could do that (which I could not do), 
this would not be the place; nor perhaps should I have to say very 
much that has not been said before, and has not been attended to. 

But we are not going to enter on a metaphysical question to 
which we are not equal; we meet the metaphysical assertion of 
the "individualist" with a mere denial and, turning to facts, we 
will try to show that they lead us in another direction. To the 
assertion, then, that selves are "individual" in the sense of exclu- 
sive of other selves, we oppose the (equally justified) assertion 
that this is a mere fancy. We say that, out of theory, no such 
individual men exist; and we will try to show from fact that, in 
fact, what we call an individual man is what he is because of and 
by virtue of community, and that communities are thus not mere 
names but something real, and can be regarded (if we mean to 
keep to facts) only as the one in the many. 

And to confine the subject and to keep to what is familiar, we 
will not call to our aid the life of animals, nor early societies, nor 
the course of history, but we will take men as they are now; we 
will take ourselves and endeavor to keep wholly to the teaching 
of experience. 

Let us take a man, an Englishman as he is now, and try to 
point out that apart from what he has in common with others, 
apart from his sameness with others, he is not an Englishman — 
nor a man at all; that if you take him as something by himself, he 
is not what he is. Of course we do not mean to say that he cannot 
go out of England without disappearing, nor, even if all the rest 

104 Ethical Studies 

of the nation perished that he would not survive. What we mean 
to say is that he is what he is because he is a born and educated 
social being, and a member of an individual social organism; that 
if you make abstraction of all this, which is the same in him and 
in others, what you have left is not an Englishman, nor a man, 
but some I know not what residuum, which never has existed by 
itself and does not so exist. If we suppose the world of relations, 
in which he was born and bred, never to have been, then we 
suppose the very essence of him not to be; if we take that away, 
we have taken him away; and hence he now is not an individual, 
in the sense of owing nothing to the sphere of relations in which 
he finds himself, but does contain those relations within himself 
as belonging to his very being; he is what he is, in brief, so far 
as he is what others also are. 

But we shall be cut short here with an objection. "It is im- 
possible," we shall be told, "that two men should have the same 
thing in common. You are confusing sameness and likeness." 
I say in answer that I am not, and that the too probable objector 
I am imagining too probably knows the meaning of neither one 
word nor the other. But this is a matter we do not intend to 
stay over, because it is a metaphysical question we cannot discuss, 
and which, moreover, we cannot be called on to discuss. We 
cannot be called on to discuss it because we have to do again 
here with sheer assertion, which either is ignorant of or ignores 
the critical investigation of the subject, and which, therefore, has 
no right to demand an answer. We allude to it merely because it 
has become a sort of catchword with "advanced thinkers." All 
that it comes to is this: first identity and diversity are assumed to 
exclude one another, and therefore, since diversity is a fact, it 
follows that there is no identity. Hence a difficulty; because it 
has been seen long ago and forces itself upon everyone, that 
denial of all identity brings you into sharp collision with ordi- 
nary fact and leads to total skepticism^; so, to avoid this, 

^ Even from Mr. Mill (in controversy) we can quote, "If every general 
conception, instead of being 'the One in the Many,' were considered to be as 
many different conceptions as there are things to which it is applicable, there 
would be no such thing as general language." — Logic, 6th ed., I, 201. 

My Station And Its Duties 105 

while we yet maintain the previous dogma, "resemblance" is 
brought in — a conception which (I suppose I need not add) is 
not analyzed or properly defined, and so does all the better. 
Against these assertions I shall put some others, viz., that identity 
and diversity, sameness and difference, imply one another, and 
depend for their meaning on one another; that mere diversity is 
nonsense, just as mere identity is also nonsense; that resemblance 
or likeness, strictly speaking, falls not in the objects, but in the 
person contemplating (likening, ver-gleichend) ; that "is A really 
like B?" does not mean "does it seem like?" It may mean "would 
it seem like to everybody?" but it generally means "is there an 
'objective identity'? Is there a point or points the same in both, 
whether anyone sees it or not?" We do not talk of cases of 
"mistaken likeness"; we do not hang one man because he is 
"exactly like" another, or at least we do not wish to do so. We are 
the same as we were, not merely more or less like. We have the 
same faith, hope, and purpose, and the same feelings as another 
man has now, as ourselves had at another time — not understand- 
ing thereby the numerical indistinguishedness of particular states 
and moments, but calling the feelings one and the same feeling 
because what is felt is the same, and not merely like. In short, 
so far is it from being true that "sameness" is really "likeness," 
that it is utterly false that two things are really and objectively 
"like," unless that means "more or less the same." So much by 
way of counter-assertion; and now let us turn to our facts. 

The "individual" man, the man into whose essence his com- 
munity with others does not enter, who does not include relation 
to others in his very being, is, we say, a fiction, and in the light of 
facts we have to examine him. Let us take him in the shape of 
an English child as soon as he is born; for I suppose we ought 
not to go further back. Let us take him as soon as he is sepa- 
rated from his mother and occupies a space clear and exclusive 
of all other human beings. At this time, education and custom 
will, I imagine, be allowed to have not as yet operated on him or 
lessened his "individuality." But is he now a mere "individual," 
in the sense of not implying in his being identity with others? We 
cannot say that if we hold to the teaching of modern physiology. 

106 Ethical Studies 

Physiology would tell us, in one language or another, that even 
now the child's mind is no passive "tabula rasa"; he has an inner, 
a yet undeveloped nature, which must largely determine his 
future individuality. What is this inner nature? Is it particular 
to himself? Certainly not all of it, will have to be the answer. The 
child is not fallen from heaven. He is bom of certain parents 
who come of certain families, and he has in him the qualities of 
his parents, and, as breeders would say, of the strains from both 
sides. Much of it we can see and more we believe to be latent 
and, given certain (possible or impossible) conditions, ready to 
come to light. On the descent of mental qualities modern in- 
vestigation and popular experience, as expressed in uneducated 
vulgar opinion, altogether, I believe, support one another, and we 
need not linger here. But if the intellectual and active qualities 
do descend from ancestors, is it not, I would ask, quite clear that 
a man may have in him the same that his father and mother had, 
the same that his brothers and sisters have? And if anyone 
objects to the word "same," I would put this to him. If, concern- 
ing two dogs allied in blood, I were to ask a man, "Is that of the 
same strain or stock as this?" and were answered, "No, not the 
same, but similar," should I not think one of these things, that the 
man either meant to deceive me, or was a "thinker," or a fool? 

But the child is not merely the member of a family; he is born 
into other spheres, and (passing over the subordinate wholes which 
nevertheless do in many cases qualify him) he is born a member 
of the English nation. It is, I believe, a matter of fact that at 
birth the child of one race is not the same as the child of another; 
that in the children of the one race there is a certain identity, a 
developed or undeveloped national type which may be hard to 
recognize, or which at present may even be unrecognizable, but 
which nevertheless in some form will appear. If that be the fact, 
then again we must say that one English child is in some points, 
though perhaps it does not as yet show itself, the same as another. 
His being is so far common to him with others; he is not a mere 

We see the child has been bom at a certain time of parents of 
a certain race, and that means also of a certain degree of culture. 

My Station And Its Duties 107 

It is the opinion of those best qualified to speak on the subject 
that civilization is to some not inconsiderable extent hereditary; 
that aptitudes are developed, and are latent in the child at birth; 
and that it is a very different thing, even apart from education, to 
be born of civilized and of uncivilized ancestors. These "civilized 
tendencies," if we may use the phrase, are part of the essence of 
the child. He would only partly (if at all) be himself without 
them; he owes them to his ancestors, and his ancestors owe them 
to society. The ancestors were made what they were by the society 
they lived in. If in answer it be replied, "Yes, but individual 
ancestors were prior to their society," then that, to say the least of 
it, is a hazardous and unproved assertiQn, since man, so far as 
history can trace him back, is social; and if Mr. Darwin's con- 
jecture as to the development of man from a social animal be 
received, we must say that man has never been anything but 
social, and society never was made by individual men. Nor, if 
the (baseless) assertion of the priority of individual men were 
allowed, would that destroy our case, for certainly our more 
immediate ancestors were social; and, whether society was manu- 
factured previously by individuals or not, yet in their case it 
certainly was not so. They at all events have been so qualified 
by the common possessions of social mankind that, as members 
in the organism, they have become relative to the whole. If we 
suppose then that the results of the social life of the race are 
present in a latent and potential form in the child, can we deny 
that they are common property? Can we assert that they are 
not an element of sameness in all? Can we say that the individual 
is this individual because he is exclusive, when, if we deduct 
from him what he includes, he loses characteristics which make 
him himself, and when again he does include what the others 
include, and therefore does (how can we escape the consequence?) 
include in some sense the others also, just as they include him? 
By himself, then, what are we to call him? I confess I do not 
know unless we name him a theoretical attempt to isolate what 
cannot be isolated, and that, I suppose, has, out of our heads, no 
existence. But what he is really, and not in mere theory, can be 
described only as the specification or particularization of that 

108 Ethical Studies 

which is common, which is the same amid diversity, and without 
which the "individual" would be so other than he is that we 
could not call him the same. 

Thus the child is at birth; and he is born not into a desert, 
but into a living world, a whole which has a true individuality of 
its own, and into a system and order which it is diflBcult to look 
at as anything else than an organism, and which, even in England, 
we are now beginning to call by that name. And I fear that the 
"individuality" (the particularness) which the child brought into 
the light with him now stands but a poor chance, and that there is 
no help for him until he is old enough to become a "philosopher." 
We have seen that already he has in him inherited habits, or 
what will of themselves appear as such; but, in addition to this, 
he is not for one moment left alone, but continually tampered 
with; and the habituation which is applied from the outside is the 
more insidious that it answers to this inborn disposition. Who 
can resist it? Nay, who but a "thinker" could wish to have 
resisted it? And yet the tender care that receives and guides 
him is impressing on him habits, habits, alas, not particular to 
himself, and the "icy chains" of universal custom are hardening 
themselves round his cradled life. As the poet tells us, he has 
not yet thought of himself; his earliest notions come mixed to 
him of things and persons, not distinct from one another, nor 
divided from the feeling of his own existence. The need that he 
cannot understand moves him to foolish, but not futile, cries for 
what only another can give him; and the breast of his mother, 
and the soft warmth and touches and tones of his nurse, are made 
one with the feeling of his own pleasure and pain; nor is he yet 
a moralist to beware of such illusion and to see in them mere 
means to an end without them in his separate self. For he does 
not even think of his separate self; he grows with his world, his 
mind fills and orders itself; and when he can separate himself 
from that world, and know himself apart from it, then by that 
time his self, the object of his self-consciousness, is penetrated, 
infected, characterized by the existence of others. Its content 
implies in every fiber relations of community. He learns, or 
already perhaps has learned, to speak, and here he appropriates 

My Station And Its Duties 109 

the common heritage of his race; the tongue that he makes his 
own is his country's language, it is (or it should be) the same 
that others speak, and it carries into his mind the ideas and 
sentiments of the race (over this I need not stay), and stamps 
them in indelibly. He grows up in an atmosphere of example and 
general custom, his life widens out from one little world to 
other and higher worlds, and he apprehends through successive 
stations the whole in which he lives, and in which he has lived. 
Is he now to try and develop his "individuality," his self which 
is not the same as other selves? Where is it? What is it? 
Where can he find it? The soul within him is saturated, is 
filled, is qualified by, it has assimilated, has got its substance, 
has built itself up from, it is one and the same life with the 
universal life, and if he turns against this he turns against himself; 
if he thrusts it from him, he tears his own vitals; if he attacks it, 
he sets his weapon against his own heart. He has found his life 
in the life of the whole, he lives that in himself, "he is a pulse- 
beat of the whole system, and himself the whole system." 

"The child, in his character of the form of the possibility of a 
moral individual, is something subjective or negative; his growing 
to manhood is the ceasing to be of this form, and his education 
is the discipline or the compulsion thereof. The positive side 
and the essence is that he is suckled at the breast of the universal 
Ethos, lives in its absolute intuition, as in that of a foreign being 
first, then comprehends it more and more, and so passes over into 
the universal mind." The writer proceeds to draw the weighty 
conclusion that virtue "is not a troubling oneself about a peculiar 
and isolated morality of one's own, that the striving for a positive 
morality of one's own is futile, and in its very nature impossible 
of attainment; that in respect of morality the saying of the wisest 
men of antiquity is the only one which is true, that to be moral is 
to live in accordance with the moral tradition of one's country; 
and in respect of education the one true answer is that which a 
Pythagorean gave to him who asked what was the best education 
for his son, If you make him the citizen of a people with good 

' Hegel, Philosophische Abhandlungen, 1, 389. 

110 Ethical Studies 

But this is to anticipate. So far, I think, without aid from meta- 
physics, we have seen that the "individual" apart from the 
community is an abstraction. It is not anything real and hence 
not anything that we can realize, however much we may wish to 
do so. We have seen that I am myself by sharing with others, 
by including in my essence relations to them, the relations of the 
social state. If I wish to realize my true being I must therefore 
realize something beyond my being as a mere this or that, for my 
true being has in it a life which is not the life of any mere partic- 
ular, and so must be called a universal life. 

What is it then that I am to realize? We have said it in "my 
station and its duties." To know what a man is (as we have 
seen) you must not take him in isolation. He is one of a people, 
he was born in a family, he lives in a certain society, in a certain 
state. What he has to do depends on what his place is, what his 
function is, and that all comes from his station in the organism. 
Are there then such organisms in which he lives, and if so, what 
is their nature? Here we come to questions which must be 
answered in full by any complete system of Ethics, but which we 
cannot enter on. We must content ourselves by pointing out 
that there are such facts as the family, then in a middle position 
a man's own profession and society, and, over all, the larger 
community of the state. Leaving out of sight the question of a 
society wider than the state, we must say that a man's life with its 
moral duties is in the main filled up by his station in that system 
of wholes which the state is, and that this, partly by its laws and 
institutions and still more by its spirit, gives him the life which 
he does live and ought to live. That objective institutions exist 
is of course an obvious fact; and it is a fact which every day is 
becoming plainer that these institutions are organic, and further, 
that they are moral. The assertion that communities have been 
manufactured by the addition of exclusive units is, as we have 
seen, a mere fable; and if, within the state, we take that which 
seems wholly to depend on individual caprice, e. g., marriage,' 

' Marriage is a contract, a contract to pass out of the sphere of contract ; 
and this is possible only because the contr ting parties are already beyond 
and above the sphere of mere contract. 

My Station And Its Duties 111 

yet even here we find that a man does give up his self so far as it 
excludes others; he does bring himself under a unity which is 
superior to the particular person and the impulses that belong to 
his single existence, and which makes him fully as much as he 
makes it. In short, man is a social being; he is real only because 
he is social, and can realize himself only because it is as social that 
he realizes himself. The mere individual is a delusion of theory; 
and the attempt to realize it in practice is the starvation and 
mutilation of human nature, with total sterility or the production 
of monstrosities. 

Let us now in detail compare the advantages of our present 
view with the defects of "duty for duty's sake." The objections we 
found fatal to that view may be stated as follows: (1) The uni- 
versal was abstract. There was no content which belonged to it 
and was one with it; and the consequence was that either nothing 
could be willed, or what was willed was willed not because of the 
universal, but capriciously. (2) The universal was "subjective." 
It certainly gave itself out as "objective," in the sense of being 
independent of this or that person, but still it was not real in the 
world. It did not come to us as what was, it came as what 
(merely) was to be, an inner notion in moral persons, which had 
not power to carry itself out and transform the world. And self- 
realization, if it means will, does mean that we put ourselves forth 
and see ourselves actual in outer existence. Hence, by identifying 
ourselves with that which has not this existence, which is not 
master of the outer world, we cannot secure our self-realization; 
since, when we have identified ourselves with the end, the end may 
stiU remain a mere inner end which does not accomplish itself, 
and so does not satisfy us. (3) The universal left a part of our- 
selves outside it. However much we tried to be good, however 
determined we were to make our will one with the good will, yet 
we never succeeded. There was always something left in us which 
was in contradiction with the good. And this we saw was even 
necessary because morality meant and implied this contradiction, 
unless we accepted that form of conscientiousness which consists 
in the simple identification of one's conscience with one's own self 

112 Ethical Studies 

(unless, i. e., the consciousness of the relation of my private self to 
myself as the good self be degraded into my self-consciousness of 
my mere private self as the good self) ; and this cannot be if we 
are in earnest with morality. There thus remains a perpetual con- 
tradiction in myself, no less than in the world, between the "is to 
be" and the "is," a contradiction that cannot be got rid of without 
getting rid of morality; for, as we saw, it is inherent in morality. 
The man cannot realize himself in himself as moral because the 
conforming of his sensuous nature to the universal would be the 
entire suppression of it, and hence not only of himself but also of 
the morality which is constituted by the relation of himself to the 
universal law. The man then cannot find self-realization in the 
morality of pure duty because (1) he cannot look on his subjective 
self as the realized moral law; (2) he cannot look on the objective 
world as the realization of the moral law; (3) he cannot realize 
the moral law at all because it is defined as that which has no 
particular content, and therefore no reality; or, if he gives it a 
content, then it is not the law he realizes, since the content is got 
not from the law but from elsewhere. In short, duty for duty's 
sake is an unsolved contradiction, the standing "is to be," which, 
therefore, because it is to be, is not; and in which, therefore, since 
it is not, he cannot find himself realized nor satisfy himself. 

These are serious defects. Let us see how they are mended by 
"my station and its duties." In that (1) the universal is concrete, 
(2) it is objective, (3) it leaves nothing of us outside it. 

(1) It is concrete, and yet not given by caprice. Let us take 
the latter first. It is not given by caprice for, although within 
certain limits I may choose my station according to my own 
liking, yet I and everyone else must have some station with duties 
pertaining to it, and those duties do not depend on our opinion 
or liking. Certain circumstances, a certain position, call for a 
certain course. How I in particular know what my right course 
is, is a question we shall recur to hereafter — but at present we may 
take it as an obvious fact that in my station my particular duties 
are prescribed to me, and I have them whether I wish to or not. 
And secondly, it is concrete. The universal to be realized is no 
abstraction, but an organic whole; a system where many spheres 

My Station And Its Duties 113 

are subordinated to one sphere, and particular actions to spheres. 
This system is real in the detail of its functions, not out of them, 
and lives in its vital processes, not away from them. The organs 
are always at work for the whole, the whole is at work in the 
organs. And I am one of the organs. The universal then which 
I am to realize is the system which penetrates and subordinates to 
itself the particulars of all lives, and here and now in my life has 
this and that function in this and that case, in exercising which 
through my will it realizes itself as a whole, and me in it. 

(2) It is "objective"; and this means that it does not stand 
over against the outer world as mere "subject" confronted by mere 
"object." In that sense of the words it is neither merely "objec- 
tive" nor merely "subjective"; but it is that real identity of subject 
and object, which, as we have seen, is the only thing that satisfies 
our desires. The inner side does exist, but it is no more than 
the inside; it is one factor in the whole and must not be separ- 
ated from the other factor; and the mistake which is made by the 
morality which confines itself to the individual man is just this 
attempt at the separation of what cannot be separated. The 
inner side certainly is a fact, and it can be distinguished from the 
rest of the whole ; but it really is one element of the whole, depends 
on the whole for its being, and cannot be divided from it. Let 
us explain. The moral world, as we said, is a whole, and has two 
sides. There is an outer side, systems and institutions, from the 
family to the nation; this we may call the body of the moral 
world. And there must also be a soul, or else the body goes to 
pieces; everyone knows that institutions without the spirit ot 
them are dead. In the moral organism this spirit is in the wiP. of 
the organs as the will of the whole which, in and by the organs, 
carries out the organism and makes it alive, and which also (and 
this is the point to which attention is requested) is and must be 
felt or known in each organ as his own inward and personal will. 
It is quite clear that a nation is not strong without public spirit, 
and is not public spirited unless the members of it are public 
spirited, i. e., feel the good of the public as a personal matter, or 
have it at their hearts. The point here is that you cannot have 
the moral world unless it is willed; that to be willed it must be 

114 Ethical Studies 

willed by persons ; and that these persons not only have the moral 
world as the content of their wills, but also must in some way be 
aware of themselves as willing this content. This being inwardly 
aware of oneself as willing the good will falls in the inside of the 
moral whole; we may call it the soul; and it is the sphere of per- 
sonal morality, or morality in the narrower sense of the conscious- 
ness of the relation of my private self to the inwardly presented 
universal will, my being aware of and willing myself as one with 
that or contrary to that, as dutiful or bad. We must never let 
this out of our sight, that, where the moral world exists, you have 
and you must have these two sides; neither will stand apart from 
the other; moral institutions are carcasses without personal mor- 
ality, and personal morality apart from moral institutions is an 
unreality, a soul without a body. 

Now this inward, this "subjective," this personal side, this know- 
ing in himself by the subject of the relation in which the will of 
him as this or that man stands to the will of the whole within him, 
or (as was rightly seen by "duty for duty's sake") this conscious- 
ness in the one subject, of himself as two selves, is, as we said, 
necessary for all morality. But the form in which it is present 
may vary very much, and, beginning with the stage of mere feeling, 
goes on to that of explicit reflection. The reader who considers 
the matter will perceive that (whether in the life of mankind or of 
this or that man) we do not begin with a consciousness of good 
and evil, right and wrong, as such, or in the strict sense.* The 
child is taught to will a content which is universal and good, and 
he learns to identify his will with it so that he feels pleasure when 
he feels himself in accord with it, uneasiness or pain when his will 
is contrary thereto and he feels that it is contrary. This is the 
beginning of personal morality, and from this we may pass to con- 
sider the end. That, so far as form went, was sufficiently exhibited 
in Essay IV. It consists in the explicit consciousness in myself 
of two elements which, even though they exist in disunion, are felt 
to be really one; these are myself as the will of this or that self, 
and again the universal will as the will for good; and this latter I 
feel to be my true self, and desire my other self to be subordinated 

On this point see more in Essay VII. 

My Station And Its Duties 115 

to and so identified with it; in which case I feel the satisfaction 
of an inward realization. That so far as form goes is correct. 
But the important point on which "duty for duty's sake" utterly 
failed us was as to the content of the universal will. We have 
seen that for action this must have a content, and now we see 
where the content comes from. The universal side in personal 
morality is, in short, the reflection of the objective moral world 
into ourselves (or into itself). The outer universal which I have 
been taught to will as my will, and which I have grown to find 
myself in, is now presented by me inwardly to myself as the uni- 
versal which is my true being, and which by my will I must realize, 
if need be, against my will as this or that man. So this inner uni- 
versal has the same content as the outer universal, for it is the 
outer universal in another sphere; it is the inside of the outside. 
There was the whole system as an objective will, including my 
station, and realizing itself here and now in my function. Here is 
the same system presented as a will in me, standing above my will, 
which wills a certain act to be done by me as a will which is one 
with the universal will. This universal will is not a blank, but is 
filled by the consideration of my station in the whole with refer- 
ence to habitual and special acts. The ideal self appealed to by 
the moral man is an ideally presented will, in his position and 
circumstances, which rightly particularizes the general laws which 
answer to the general functions and system of spheres of the moral 
organism. That is the content, and therefore, as we saw, it is 
concrete and filled. And therefore also (which is equally impor- 
tant) it is not merely "subjective." 

If, on the inner side of the moral whole, the universal factor 
were (as in would-be morality it is) filled with a content which is 
not the detail of the objective will particularizing itself in such and 
such functions, then there would be no true identity of subject 
and object, no need why that which is moral should be that which 
is real, and we should never escape from a practical postulate, 
which, as we saw, is a practical standing contradiction. But if, as 
we have seen, the universal on the inside is the universal on the 
outside reflected in us, or (since we cannot separate it and our- 
selves) into itself in us; if the objective will of the moral organism 

116 Ethical Studies 

is real only in the will of its organs, and if, in willing morally, we 
will ourselves as that will, and that will wills itself in us — ^then we 
must hold that this universal on the inner side is the will of the 
whole, which is self-conscious in us, and wills itself in us against 
the actual or possible opposition of the false private self. This 
being so, when we will morally, the will of the objective world wills 
itself in us, and carries both us and itself out into the world of 
the moral will, which is its own realm. We see thus that when 
morals are looked at as a whole, the will of the inside, so far as it 
is moral, is the will of the outside, and the two are one and can- 
not be torn apart without ipso facto destroying the unity in which 
morality consists. To be moral I must will my station and its 
duties; that is, I will to particularize the moral system truly in a 
given case; and the other side to this act is that the moral system 
wills to particularize itself in a given station and functions, i. e., in 
my actions and by my will. In other words, my moral self is not 
simply mine; it is not an inner which belongs simply to me; and 
further, it is not a mere inner at all, but it is the soul which ani- 
mates the body and lives in it, and would not be the soul if it had 
not a body and its body. The objective organism, the system- 
atized moral world, is the reality of the moral will; my duties on 
the inside answer to due functions on the outside. There is no 
need here for a pre-established or a postulated harmony, for the 
moral whole is the identity of both sides; my private choice, so 
far as I am moral, is the mere form of bestowing myself on and 
identifying myself with the will of the moral organism, which 
realizes in its process both itself and myself. Hence we see that 
what I have to do I have not to force on a recalcitrant world; I 
have to fill my place — the place that waits for me to fill it; to 
make my private self the means, my life the sphere and the function 
of the soul of the whole, which thus, personal in me, externalizes 
both itself and me into a solid reality, which is both mine and its. 
(3) What we come to now is the third superiority of "my 
station and its duties." The universal which is the end, and 
which we have seen is concrete and does realize itself, does also 
more. It gets rid of the contradiction between duty and the 
"empirical" self; it does not in its realization leave me forever 
outside and unrealized. 

My Station And Its Duties 117 

In "duty for duty's sake" we were always unsatisfied, no nearer 
our goal at the end than at the beginning. There we had the 
fixed antithesis of the sensuous self on one side, and a nonsen- 
suous moral ideal on the other — a standing contradiction which 
brought with it a perpetual self-deceit, or the depressing perpetual 
confession that I am not what I ought to be in my inner heart, 
and that I never can be so. Duty, we thus saw, was an infinite 
process, an unending "not-yet"; a continual "not" with an ever- 
lasting "to be," or an abiding "to be" with a ceaseless "not." 

From this last peevish enemy we are again delivered by "my 
station and its duties." There I realize myself morally, so that 
not only what ought to be in the world is, but I am what I ought 
to be, and find so my contentment and satisfaction. If this were 
not the case, when we consider that the ordinary moral man is 
self-contented and happy, we should be forced to accuse him of 
immorality, and we do not do this; we say he most likely might 
be better, but we do not say that he is bad, or need consider him- 
self so. Why is this? It is because "my station and its duties" 
teaches us to identify others and ourselves with the station we 
fill; to consider that as good, and by virtue of that to consider 
others and ourselves good too. It teaches us that a man who 
does his work in the world is good, notwithstanding his faults, if 
his faults do not prevent him from fulfilling his station. It tells 
us that the heart is an idle abstraction; we are not to think of it, 
nor must we look at our insides, but at our work and our life, and 
say to ourselves, Am I fulfilling my appointed function or not? 
Fulfill it we can, if we will. What we have to do is not so much 
better than the world that we cannot do it; the world is there 
waiting for it; my duties are my rights. On the one hand, I am 
not likely to be much better than the world asks me to be; on the 
other hand, if I can take my place in the world I ought not to be 
discontented. Here we must not be misunderstood; we do not 
say that the false self, the habits and desires opposed to the good 
will, are extinguished. Though negated, they never are all of them 
entirely suppressed, and cannot be. Hence we must not say that 
any man really does fill his station to the full height of his 
capacity; nor must we say of any man that he cannot perform 

118 Ethical Studies 

his function better than he does, for we all can do so, and should 
try to do so. We do not wish to deny what are plain moral facts, 
nor in any way to slur them over. 

How then does the contradiction disappear? It disappears 
by my identifying myself with the good will that I realize in the 
world, by my refusing to identify myself with the bad will of my 
private self. So far as I am one with the good will, living as 
a member in the moral organism, I am to consider myself real and 
I am not to consider the false self real. That cannot be attrib- 
uted to me in my character of member in the organism. Even 
in me the false existence of it has been partly suppressed by that 
organism; and, so far as the organism is concerned, it is wholly 
suppressed because contradicted in its results, and allowed no 
reality. Hence, not existing for the organism, it does not exist 
for me as a member thereof; and only as a member thereof do I 
hold myself to be real. And yet this is not justification by faith, 
for we not only trust, but see, that despite our faults the moral 
world stands fast, and we in and by it. It is like faith, however, in 
this, that not merely by thinking ourselves, but by willing ourselves 
as such, can we look on ourselves as organs in a good whole, and 
so ourselves good. And further, the knowledge that as members 
of the system we are real, and not otherwise, encourages us more 
and more to identify ourselves with that system ; to make ourselves 
better, and so more real, since we see that the good is real, and 
thai nothing else is. 

Or, to repeat it, in education my self by habituation has been 
growing into one with the good self around me, and by my free 
acceptance of my lot hereafter I consciously make myself one 
with the good, so that, though bad habits cling to and even arise 
in me, yet I cannot but be aware of myself as the reality of the 
good will. That is my essential side; my imperfections are not, 
and practically they do not matter. The good will in the world 
realizes itself by and in imperfect instruments, and in spite of 
them. The work is done, and so long as I will my part of the 
work and do it (as I do), I feel that, if I perform the function, I 
am the organ, and that my faults, if they do not matter to my 
station, do not matter to me. My heart I am not to think of. 

My Station And Its Duties 119 

except to tell by my work whether it is in my work, and one with 
the moral whole; and if that is so, I have the consciousness of 
absolute reality in the good because of and by myself, and in 
myself because of and through the good; and with that I am 
satisfied, and have no right to be dissatisfied. 

The individual's consciousness of himself is inseparable from 
the knowing himself as an organ of the whole; and the residuum 
falb more and more into the backgroimd, so that he thinks of it, 
if at all, not as himself, but as an idle appendage. For his nature 
now is not distinct from his "artificial self." He is related to the 
living moral system not as to a foreign body; his relation to it is 
"too inward even for faith," since faith implies a certain separa- 
tion. It is no other-world that he cannot see but must trust to : he 
feels himself in it, and it in him; in a word, the self -consciousness 
of himself is the self-consciousness of the whole in him, and his 
will is the will which sees in him its accomplishment by him ; it is 
the free will which knows itself as the free will, and as this beholds 
its realization and is more than content 

The non-theoretical person, if he be not immoral, is at peace 
with reality ; and the man who in any degree has made this point 
of view his own becomes more and more reconciled to the world 
and to life, and the theories of "advanced thinkers" come to him 
more and more as the thinnest and most miserable abstractions. 
He sees evils which cannot discourage him, since they point to 
the strength of the life which can endure such parasites and 
flourish in spite of them. If the popularizing of superficial views 
inclines him to bitterness, he comforts himself when he sees that 
they live in the head, and but little, if at all, in the heart and Hfe ; 
that still at the push the doctrinaire and the quacksalver go to the 
wall, and that even that too is as it ought to be. He sees the true 
account of the state (which holds it to be neither mere force nor 
convention, but the moral organism, the real identity of might and 
right) unknown or "refuted," laughed at and despised, but he sees 
the state every day in its practice refute every other doctrine, and 
do with the moral approval of all what the explicit theory of 
scarcely one will morally justify. He sees instincts are better and 

120 Ethical Studies 

stronger than so-called "principles." He sees in the hour of need 
what are called "rights" laughed at, "freedom," the liberty to do 
what one pleases, tramped on, the claims of the individual trodden 
under foot, and theories burst like cobwebs. And he sees, as of 
old, the heart of a nation rise high and beat in the breast of each 
one of her citizens till her safety and her honor are dearer to 
each than life, till to those who live her shame and sorrow, if such 
is allotted, outweigh their loss, and death seems a little thing to 
those who go for her to their common and nameless grave. And 
he knows that what is stronger than death is hate or love, hate 
here for love's sake, and that love does not fear death because 
already it is the death into life of what our philosophers tell us is 
the only life and reality. 

Yes, the state is not put together, but it lives; it is not a heap 
nor a machine; it is no mere extravagance when a poet talks of a 
nation's soul. It is the objective mind which is subjective and 
self-conscious in its citizens — it feels and knows itself in the heart 
of each. It speaks the word of command and gives the field of 
accomplishment, and in the activity of obedience it has and 
bestows individual life and satisfaction and happiness. 

First in the community is the individual realized. He is here 
the embodiment of beauty, goodness, and truth — of truth because 
he corresponds to his universal conception, of beauty because 
he realizes it in a single form to the senses or imagination, of good- 
ness because his will expresses and is the will of the universal. 

"The realm of morality is nothing but the absolute spiritual 
unity of the essence of individuals, which exists in the independent 
reality of them. . . . The moral substance, looked at abstractedly 
from the mere side of its universality, is the law, and, as this, is 
only thought; but nonetheless is it, from another point of view, 
immediate real self -consciousness or custom: and conversely the 
individual exists as this single unit, inasmuch as it is conscious in 
its individuality of the universal consciousness as its own being, 
inasmuch as its action and existence are the universal Ethos. . . . 
They (the individuals) are aware in themselves that they possess 
this individual independent being because of the sacrifice of their 
individuality, because the universal substance is their soul and 

My Station And Its Duties 121 

essence: and, on the other side, this universal is their individual 
action, the work that they as individuals have produced. 

"The merely individual action and business of the separate 
person is concerned with the needs he is subject to as a natural 
being, as an individuality which exists. That even these his 
commonest functions do not come to nothing, but possess reality, 
is effected solely by the universal maintaining medium, by the 
power of the whole people. But it is not simply the form of 
persistence which the universal substance confers on his action; 
it gives also the content — what he does is the universal skill and 
custom of all. This content, just so far as it completely indi- 
vidualizes itself, is in its reality interlaced with the action of all. 
The work of the individual for his needs is a satisfaction of the 
needs of others as much as of his own; and he attains the satis- 
faction of his own only through the work of the others. The 
individual in his individual work thus accomplishes a universal 
work — he does so here unconsciously; but he also further accom- 
plishes it as his conscious object: the whole as the whole is his 
work for which he sacrifices himself, and from which by that very 
sacrifice he gets again his self restored. Here there is nothing 
taken which is not given, nothing wherein the independent indi- 
vidual, by and in the resolution of his atomic existence, by and in 
the negation of his self, fails to give himself the positive signif- 
icance of a being which exists by and for itself. The unity — on 
the one side of the being for another, or the making oneself into an 
outward thing, and on the other side of the being for oneself — this 
universal substance speaks its universal language in the usages and 
laws of his people: and yet this unchanging essence is itself 
nought else than the expression of the single individuality, which 
seems at first sight its mere opposite; the laws pronounce nothing 
but what everyone is and does. The individual recognizes the 
substance not only as his universal outward existence, but he 
recognizes also himself in it, particularized in his own individuality 
and in that of each of his fellow citizens. And so in the universal 
mind each one has nothing but self-certainty, the assurance of 
finding in existing reality nothing but himself. In all I contem- 
plate independent beings, that are such, and are for themselves, 

122 Ethical Studies 

only in the very same way that I am for myself; in them I see 
existing free unity of self with others, and existing by virtue of 
me and by virtue of the others alike. Them as myself, myself 
as them/ 

"In a free people, therefore, reason is realized in truth; it is 
present living mind, and in this not only does the individual find 
his destination, i. e., his universal and singular essence, promul- 
gated and ready to his hand as an outward existence, but he him- 
self is this essence, and has also reached and fulfilled his destina- 
tion. Hence the wisest men of antiquity have given judgment that 
wisdom and virtue consist in living agreeably to the Ethos of one's 

* Let me illustrate from our great poet : 

So they loved, as love in twain 
Had the essence but in one; 
Two distincts, division none: 
Number there in love was slain. 

Hearts remote yet not asunder; 
Distance, and no space was seen — 
So between them love did shine . . . 
Either was the other's mine. 

Property was thus appalled, 
That the self was not the same; 
Single nature's double name 
Neither two nor one was called. 

Reason, in itself confounded. 
Saw division grow together: 
To themselves yet either neither 
Simple were so well compounded, 

That it cried. How true a twain 
Seemeth this concordant one! 
Love hath reason, reason none, 
If what parts can so remain. 

— (The Phoenix and the Turtle.) 

Surely philosophy does not reach its end till the "reason of reason" is 
adequate to the "reason of love." 

•Hegel, Phanomenologie des Geistes (1807), 11, 256-8. 

My Station And Its Duties 123 

Once let us take the point of view which regards the community 
as the real moral organism, which in its members knows and wills 
itself and sees the individual to be real just so far as the universal 
self is in his self, as he in it, and we get the solution of most, if 
not all, of our previous diflBculties. There is here no need to ask 
and by some scientific process find out what is moral, for morality 
exists all round us, and faces us, if need be, with a categorical 
imperative, while it surrounds us on the other side with an atmos- 
phere of love. 

The belief in this real moral organism is the one solution of 
ethical problems. It breaks down the antithesis of despotism and 
individualism; it denies them, while it preserves the truth of both. 
The truth of individualism is saved, because unless we have 
intense life and self-consciousness in the members of the state, the 
whole state is ossified. The truth of despotism is saved, because 
unless the member realizes the whole by and in himself, he fails 
to reach his own individuality. Considered in the main, the best 
communities are those which have the best men for their members, 
and the best men are the members of the best communities. 
Circle as this is, it is not a vicious circle. The two problems of 
the best man and best state are two sides, two distinguishable 
aspects of the one problem, how to realize in human nature the 
perfect unity of homogeneity and specification; and when we see 
that each of these without the other is unreal, then we see that 
(speaking in general) the welfare of the state and the welfare of 
its individuals are questions which it is mistaken and ruinous to 
separate. Personal morality and political and social institutions 
cannot exist apart, and (in general) the better the one the better 
the other. The community is moral because it realizes personal 
morality; personal morality is moral because and in so far as it 
realizes the moral whole. 

It is here we find an answer to the complaint of our day on 
the dwindling of human nature. The higher the organism (we 
are told) , the more are its functions specified, and hence narrowed. 
The man becomes a machine, or the piece of a machine; and, 
though the world grows, "the individual withers." On this we 
may first remark that, if what is meant is that the more centralized 

124 Ethical Studies 

the system, the more narrow and monotonous is the life of the 
member, that is a very questionable assertion. If it be meant 
that the individual's life can be narrowed to "file-packing," or the 
like, without detriment to the intensity of the life of the whole, 
that is even more questionable. If again it be meant that in 
many cases we have a one-sided specification, which, despite the 
immediate stimulus of particular function implies ultimate loss of 
life to the body, that, I think, probably is so, but it is doubtful if 
we are compelled to think it always must be so. But the root 
of the whole complaint is a false view of things, which we have 
briefly noticed above (p. 23). The moral organism is not a mere 
animal organism. In the latter (it is no novel remark) the mem- 
ber is not aware of itself as such, while in the former it knows 
itself, and therefore knows the whole in itself. The narrow 
external function of the man is not the whole man. He has a 
life which we cannot see with our eyes; and there is no duty 
so mean that it is not the realization of this, and knowable as such. 
What counts is not the visible outer work so much as the spirit in 
which it is done. The breadth of my life is not measured by the 
multitude of my pursuits, nor the space I take up amongst other 
men, but by the fullness of the whole life which I know as mine. 
It is true that less now depends on each of us, as this or that 
man; it is not true that our individuality is therefore lessened, 
that therefore we have less in us. 

Let us now consider our point of view in relation to certain 
antagonistic ideas; and first against the common error that there 
is something "right in itself" for me to do, in the sense that 
either there must be some absolute rule of morality the same for 
all persons without distinction of times and places, or else that 
all morality is "relative," and hence no morality. Let us begin by 
remarking that there is no such fixed code or rule of right. It 
is abundantly clear that the morahty of one time is not that of 
another time, that the men considered good in one age might in 
another age not be thought good, that what would be right for us 
here might be mean and base in another country, and what 
would be wrong for us here might there be our bounden duty. 

My Station And Its Duties 125 

This is clear fact which is denied only in the interest of a foregone 
conclusion. The motive to deny it is the belief that it is fatal to 
morality. If what is right here is wrong there, then all morality 
(such is the notion) becomes chance and convention, and so 
ceases. But "my station and its duties" holds that unless morals 
varied, there could be no morality; that a morality which was not 
relative would be futile, and I should have to ask for something 
"more relative than this." 

Let us explain. We hold that man is cfyvaei ttoAitiko?, that apart 
from the community he is ^eos 'rj OjpLov, no man at all. We hold 
again that the true nature of man, the oneness of homogeneity 
and specification, is being wrought out in history; in short, we 
believe in evolution. The process of evolution is the humanizing 
of the bestial foundation of man's nature by carrying out in it 
the true idea of man — in other words, by realizing man as an 
infinite whole (p. 18). This realization is possible only by the 
individual's living as member in a higher life, and this higher life 
is slowly developed in a series of stages. Starting from and on 
the basis of animal nature, humanity has worked itself out by 
gradual advances of specification and systematization, and any 
other progress would, in the world we know, have been impossible. 
The notion that full-fledged moral ideas fell down from heaven is 
contrary to all the facts with which we are acquainted. If they 
had done so, it would have been for their own sake ; for by us they 
certainly could not have been perceived, much less applied. At 
any given period to know more than he did, man must have been 
more than he was; for a human being is nothing if he is not the 
son of his time, and he must realize himself as that, or he will not 
do it at all. 

Morality is "relative," but is nonetheless real. At every stage 
there is the solid fact of a world so far moralized. There is an 
objective morality in the accomplished will of the past and present, 
a higher self worked out by the infinite pain, the sweat and blood 
of generations, and now given to me by free grace and in love and 
faith as a sacred trust. It comes to me as the truth of my own 
nature, and the power and the law, which is stronger and higher 
than any caprice or opinion of m/ own. 

126 Ethical Studies 

"Evolution," in this sense of the word, gives us over neither to 
chance nor alien necessity, for it is that self-realization which is 
the progressive conquest of hoth. But, on another understanding 
of the term, we cannot help asking. Is this still the case, and is 
"my station" a tenable point of view? 

Wholly tenable, in the form in which we have stated it, it is 
not. For if, in saying Morality has developed, all we mean is that 
something has happened different from earlier events, that human 
society has changed, and that the alterations, so far as we know 
them, are more or less of a certain sort; if "progress" signifies 
that an advance has been set going and is kept up by chance in 
an unknown direction; that the higher is, in short, what is and 
what before was not, and that what will be, of whatever sort it is, 
will stili be a step in progress; if, in short, the movement of 
history toward a goal is mere illusion, and the stages of that 
movement are nothing but the successes of what from time to 
time somehow happens to be best suited to the chance of circum- 
stances — then it is clear in the first place that, teleology being 
banished, such words as evolution' and progress have lost their 
own meaning, and that to speak of humanity realizing itself in 
history, and of myself finding in that movement the truth of 
myself worked out, would be simply to delude oneself with hollow 

Thus far we must say that on such a view of "development" 

'With respect to "evolution" I may remark in passing that, though this 
word may of course be used to stand for anything whatever, yet for all that 
it has a meaning of its own, which those who care to use words, not merely 
with a meaning, but also with their meaning, would do well to consider. To 
try to exhibit all that is contained in it would be a serious matter, but we 
may call attention to a part. And first, "evolution," "development," "prog- 
ress," all imply something identical throughout, a subject of the evolution, 
which is one and the same. If what is there at the beginning is not there 
at the end, and the same as what was there at the beginning, then evolution 
is a word with no meaning. Something must evolve itself, and that some- 
thing, which is the end, must also be the beginning. It must be what moves 
itself to the end, and must be the end which is the "because" of the motion. 
Evolution must evolve itself to itself, progress itself go forward to a goal 
which is itself, development bring out nothing but what was in, and bring 
it out, not from external compulsion, but because it is in. 

My Station And Its Duties 127 

the doctrine of "my station" is grievously curtailed. But is it 
destroyed? Not wholly; though sorely mutilated, it still keeps 
its ground. We have rejected teleology but have not yet em- 
braced individualism. We still believe that the universal self is 
more than a collection or an idea, that it is reality, and that apart 
from it the "individuals" are the fictions of a theory. We have 
still the fact of the one self particularized in its many members; 
and the right and duty of gaining self-realization through the real 
universal is still as certain as is the impossibility of gaining it 
otherwise. And so "my station" is after all a position, not indeed 
satisfactory, but not yet untenable. 

But if the larger doctrine be the truth, if evolution is more than 
a tortured phrase, and progress to a goal no mere idea but an 
actual fact, then history is the working out of the true human 
nature through various incomplete stages toward completion, and 
"my station" is the one satisfactory view of morals. Here (as we 
have seen) all morality is and must be "relative" because the 
essence of realization is evolution through stages, and hence exis- 
tence in some one stage which is not final ; here, on the other hand, 
all morahty is "absolute" because in every stage the essence of 
man is realized, however imperfectly ; and yet again the distinction 
of right in itself against relative morality is not banished, because, 
from the point of view of a higher stage, we can see that lower 
stages failed to realize the truth completely enough, and also, 
mixed and one with their realization, did present features contrary 
to the true nature of man as we now see it. Yet herein the 

And further, unless what is at the end is different from that which was at 
the beginning, there is no evolution. That which develops, or evolves itself, 
both is and is not. It is, or it could not be it which develops, and which at 
the end has developed. It is not, or else it could not become. It becomes 
what it is; and, if this is nonsense, then evolution is nonsense. 

Evolution is a contradiction; and, when the contradiction ceases, the evolu- 
tion ceases. The process is a contradiction, and only because it is a contra- 
diction can it be a process. So long as progress lasts, contradiction lasts; so 
long as anything becomes, it is not. To be realized is to cease to progress. 
To be at the end (in one sense) is to lose the end (in another), and that 
because (in both senses) all then comes to the end. For the process is a 
contradiction, and the solution of the contradiction is in every sense the 
end of the process. 

128 Ethical Studies 

morality of every stage is justified for that stage; and the demand 
for a code of right in itself, apart from any stage, is seen to be the 
asking for an impossibility. 

The next point we come to is the question, How do I get to 
know in particular what is right and wrong? and here again we 
find a strangely erroneous preconception. It is thought that 
moral philosophy has to accomplish this task for us, and the con- 
clusion lies near at hand that any system which will not do this 
is worthless. Well, we first remark, and with some confidence, 
that there cannot be a moral philosophy which will tell us what 
in particular we are to do, and also that it is not the business of 
philosophy to do so. All philosophy has to do is "to understand 
what is," and moral philosophy has to understand morals which 
exist, not to make them or give directions for making them. Such 
a notion is simply ludicrous. Philosophy in general has not to 
anticipate the discoveries of the particular sciences nor the evolu- 
tion of history; the philosophy of religion has not to make a new 
religion or teach an old one, but simply to understand the religious 
consciousness; and aesthetic has not to produce works of fine art, 
but to theorize the beautiful which it finds; political philosophy 
has not to play tricks with the state, but to understand it; and 
ethics has not to make the world moral, but to reduce to theory 
the morality current in the world. If we want it to do anything 
more, so much the worse for us; for it cannot possibly construct 
new morality, and, even if it could to any extent codify what exists 
(a point on which I do not enter), yet it surely is clear that in 
cases of collision of duties it would not help you to know what to 
do. Who would go to a learned theologian, as such, in a practical 
religious difficulty; to a system of aesthetic for suggestions on 
the handling of an artistic theme; to a physiologist, as such, 
for a diagnosis and prescription; to a political philosopher in 
practical politics; or to a psychologist in an intrigue of any kind? 
All these persons no doubt might be the best to go to, but that 
would not be because they were the best theorists, but because they 
were more. In short, the view which thinks moral philosophy is 
to supply us with particular moral prescriptions confuses science 

My Station And Its Duties 129 

with art, and confuses, besides, reflective with intuitive judgment. 
That which tells us what in particular is right and wrong is not 
reflection but intuition.* 

We know what is right in a particular case by what we may call 
an immediate judgment, or an intuitive subsumption. These 
phrases are perhaps not very luminous, and the matter of the 
"intuitive understanding" in general is doubtless difl&cult, and the 
special character of moral judgments not easy to define; and I do 
not say that I am in a position to explain these subjects at all, nor, 
I think, could anyone do so, except at considerable length. But 
the point that I do wish to establish here is, I think, not at all 
obscure. The reader has first to recognize that moral judgments 
are not discursive; next, that nevertheless they do start from and 
rest on a certain basis; and then if he puts the two together, he 
will see that they involve what he may call the "intuitive under- 
standing," or any other name, so long as he keeps in sight the two 
elements and holds them together. 

On the head that moral judgments are not discursive, no one, I 
think, will wish me to stay long. If the reader attends to the 
facts he will not want anything else; and if he does not, I confess 
I cannot prove my point. In practical morality, no doubt, we may 
reflect on our principles, but I think it is not too much to say that 
we never do so, except where we have come upon a difl&culty of 
particular application. If anyone thinks that a man's ordinary 
judgment, "this is right or wrong," comes from the having a rule 
before the mind and bringing the particular case under it, he may 
be right, and I cannot try to show that he is wrong. I can only 
leave it to the reader to judge for himself. We say we "see" and 
we "feel" in these cases, not we "conclude." We prize the advice 
of persons who can give us no reasons for what they say. There 
is a general belief that the having a reason for all your actions is 

® I must ask the reader here not to think of "Intuitionalism," or of "Organs 
of the Absolute," or of anything else of the sort. "Intuitive" is used here as 
the opposite of "reflective" or "discursive"; "intuition" as the opposite of 
"reasoning" or "explicit inferring." If the reader dislike the word, he may 
substitute "perception" or "sense," if he will; but then he must remember 
that neither are to exclude the intellectual, the understanding and its 
implicit judgments and inferences. 

130 Ethical Studies 

pedantic and absurd. There is a general belief that to try to 
have reasons for all that you do is sometimes very dangerous. 
Not only the woman but the man who deliberates may be lost. 
First thoughts are often the best,^ and if once you begin to argue 
with the devil you are in a perilous state. And I think I may 
add (though I do it in fear) that women are remarkable for the 
fineness of their moral perceptions^" and the quickness of their 
judgments, and yet are or (let me save myself by saying) "may 
be" not remarkable for corresponding discursive ability. 

Taking for granted then that our ordinary way of judging in 
morals is not by reflection and explicit reasoning, we have now 
to point to the other side of the fact, viz., that these judgments 
are not mere isolated impressions, but stand in an intimate and 
vital relation to a certain system, which is their basis. Here 
again we must ask the reader to pause, if in doubt, and consider 
the facts for himself. Different men, who have lived in different 
times and countries, judge a fresh case in morals differently. 
Why is this? There is probably no "why" before the mind of 
either when he judges; but we perhaps can say, "I know why A 
said so and B so," because we find some general rule or principle 
different in each, and in each the basis of the judgment. Different 
people in the same society may judge points differently, and we 
sometimes know why. It is because A is struck by one aspect 
of the case, B by another; and one principle is (not before, but) 
in A's mind when he judges, and another in B's. Each has 
subsumed, but under a different head; the one perhaps justice, 
the other gratitude. Every man has the morality he has made 
his own in his mind, and he "sees" or "feels" or "judges" accord- 
ingly, though he does not reason explicitly from data to a con- 

I think this will be clear to the reader; and so we must say 

" It is right to remark that second thoughts are often the offspring of 
wrong desire, but not always so. They may arise from collisions, and in 
these cases we see how little is to be done by theoretical deduction. 

^^ Not, perhaps, on all matters. Nor, again, will it do to say that every- 
where women are pre-eminently intuitive, and men discursive. But in 
practical matters there seems not much doubt that it is so. 

My Station And Its Duties 131 

that on their perceptive or intellectual side (and that, the reader 
must not forget, is the one side that we are considering) our 
moral judgments are intuitive subsumptions. 

To the question, How am I to know what is right? the 
answer must be. By the ato-^r^o-ts of the (f>p6vLfio<i; and the <fip6vifji.o<; 
is the man who has identified his will with the moral spirit of the 
community, and judges accordingly. If an immoral course be 
suggested to him, he "feels" or "sees" at once that the act is not 
in harmony with a good will, and he does not do this by saying, 
"this is a breach of rule A, therefore, etc.," but the first thing he 
is aware of is that he "does not like it"; and what he has done, 
without being aware of it, is (at least in most cases) to seize the 
quality of the act, that quality being a general quality. Actions 
of a particular kind he does not like, and he has instinctively 
referred the particular act to that kind. What is right is perceived 
in the same way; courses suggest themselves, and one is approved 
of, because intuitively judged to be of a certain kind, which kind 
represents a principle of the good will. 

If a man is to know what is right, he should have imbibed by 
precept, and still more by example, the spirit of his community, 
its general and special beliefs as to right and wrong, and, with 
this whole embodied in his mind should particularize it in any 
new case, not by a reflective deduction, but by an intuitive sub- 
sumption, which does not know that it is a subsumption;^^ by a 

^^ Every act has, of course, many sides, many relations, many "points of 
view from which it may be regarded," and so many qualities. There are 
always several principles under which you can bring it, and hence there is 
not the smallest difficulty in exhibiting it as the realization of either right 
or wrong. No act in the world is without some side capable of being sub- 
sumed under a good rule, e. g., theft is economy, care for one's relations, 
protest against bad institutions, really doing oneself but justice, etc.; and, if 
all else fails, it probably saves us from something worse, and therefore is 
good. Cowardice is prudence and a duty, courage rashness and a vice, and 
so on. The casuist must have little ingenuity, if there is anything he fails 
to justify or condemn according to his order. And the vice of casuistry is 
that, attempting to decide the particulars of morality by the deductions of 
the reflective understanding, it at once degenerates into finding a good reason 
for what you mean to do. You have principles of all sorts, and the case has 
all sorts of sides; which side is the essential side, and which principle is the 

132 Ethical Studies 

carrying out of the self into a new case, wherein what is before 
the mind is the case and not the self to be carried out, and where 
it is indeed the whole that feels and sees, but all that is seen is 
seen in the form of this case, this point, this instance. Precept 
is good, but example is better; for by a series of particulars 
(as such forgotten) we get the general spirit, we identify ourselves 
both on the side of will and judgment with the basis, which basis 
(be it remembered) has not got to be explicit/'' 

principle here, rests in the end on your mere private choice, and that is 
determined by heaven knows what. No reasoning will tell you which the 
moral point of view here is. Hence the necessary immorality and the ruinous 
effects of practiced casuistry. (Casuistry used not as a guide to conduct, but 
as a means to the theoretical investigation of moral principles, the casuistry 
used to discover the principle from the fact, and not to deduce the fact from 
the principle — is, of course, quite another thing.) Our moralists do not like 
casuistry; but if the current notion that moral philosophy has to tell you 
what to do is well founded, then casuistry, so far as I can see, at once 
foUows, or should follow. 

But the ordinary moral judgment is not discursive. It does not look to the 
right and left, and, considering the case from all its sides, consciously sub- 
sume under one principle. When the case is presented, it fixes on one 
quality in the act, referring that unconsciously to one principle in which it 
feels the whole of itself, and sees that whole in a single side of the act. So 
far as right and wrong are concerned it can perceive nothing but this quality 
of this case, and anything else it refuses to try to perceive. Practical morality 
means single-mindedness, the having one idea; it means what in other spheres 
would be the greatest narrowness. Point out to a man of simple morals that 
the case has other sides than the one he instinctively fixes on and he suspects 
you wish to corrupt him. And so you probably would if you went on. Apart 
from bad example, the readiest way to debauch the morality of any one is, 
on the side of principle, to confuse them by forcing them to see in all moral 
and immoral acts other sides and points of view, which alter the character of 
each; and, on the side of p£U"ticulars, to warp their instinctive apprehension 
through personed affection for yourself or some other individual. 

^^ It is worth while in this connection to refer to the custom some persons 
have (and find useful) of calling before the mind, when in doubt, a known 
person of high character and quick judgment, and thinking what they would 
have done. This no doubt both delivers the mind from private considerations 
and also is to act in the spirit of the other person (so far as we know it), 
i. e., from the general basis of his acts (certainly not the mere memory of 
his particular acts, or such memory plus inference). 

My Station And Its Duties 133 

There are a number of questions which invite considerations^' 
here, but we cannot stop. We wished to point out briefly the 
character of our common moral judgments. This (on the intel- 
lectual side) is the way in which they are ordinarily made; and, 
in the main, there is not much practical difficulty. What is 
moral in any particular given case is seldom doubtful. Society 
pronounces beforehand; or, after some one course has been taken, 
it can say whether it was right or not; though society cannot 
generalize much, and, if asked to reflect, is helpless and becomes 
incoherent. But I do not say there are no cases where the 
morally minded man has to doubt; most certainly such do arise, 
though not so many as some people think, far fewer than some 
would be glad to think. A very large number arise from reflection, 
which wants to act from an explicit principle, and so begins to 
abstract and divide, and, thus becoming one-sided, makes the 
relative absolute. Apart from this, however, collisions must take 
place, and here there is no guide whatever but the intuitive 
judgment of oneself or others." 

This intuition must not be confounded with what is sometimes 
miscalled "conscience." It is not mere individual opinion or 
caprice. It presupposes the morality of the community as its 
basis, and is subject to the approval thereof. Here, if anywhere, 
the idea of universal and impersonal morality is realized. For the 
final arbiters are the <f>p6vLixoi, persons with a will to do right, and 
not full of reflections and theories. If they fail you, you must 
judge for yourself, but practically they seldom do fail you. Their 
private peculiarities neutralize each other, and the result is an 
intuition which does not belong merely to this or that man or 
collection of men. "Conscience" is the antipodes of this. It 
wants you to have no law but yourself, and to be better than the 
world. But this tells you that, if you could be as good as your 

'^ One of these would be as to how progress in morality is made. 

"I may remark on this (after Erdmann, and I suppose Plato) that col- 
lisions of duties are avoided mostly by each man keeping to his own 
immediate duties, and not trying to see from the point of view of other 
stations than his own. 

134 Ethical Studies 

world, you would be better than most likely you are, and that to 
wish to be better than the world is to be already on the threshold 
of immorality. 

This perhaps "is a hard saying," but it is least hard to those who 
know life best; it is intolerable to those mainly who, from inex- 
perience or preconceived theories, cannot see the world as it is. 
Explained it may be by saying that enthusiasm for good dies 
away — the ideal fades: 

Dem Herrlichsten, was auch der Geist empfangen, 
Drangt immer f remd und f remder Stoff sich an ; 

but better perhaps if we say that those who have seen most of the 
world (not one side of it) — old people of no one-sided profession 
nor of immoral life — know most also how much good there is in it. 
They are tolerant of new theories and youthful opinions that 
everything would be better upside down because they know that 
this also is as it should be, and that the world gets good even 
from these. They are intolerant only of those who are old 
enough, and should be wise enough, to know better than that they 
know better than the world; for in such people they cannot help 
seeing the self-conceit which is pardonable only in youth. 

Let us be clear. What is that wish to be better, and to make 
the world better, which is on the threshold of immorality? What 
is the "world" in this sense? It is the morality already existing 
ready to hand in laws, institutions, social usages, moral opinions 
and feelings. This is the element in which the young are brought 
up. It has given moral content to themselves and it is the only 
source of such content. It is not wrong, it is a duty, to take the 
best that there is, and to live up to the best. It is not wrong, it 
is a duty, standing on the basis of the existing, and in harmony 
with its general spirit, to try and make not only oneself but also 
the world better, or rather, and in preference, one's own world 
better. But it is another thing, starting from oneself, from ideals 
in one's head, to set oneself and them against the moral world. 
The moral world with its social institutions, etc., is a fact; it is 
real: our "ideals" are not real. "But we will make them real." 

My Station And Its Duties 135 

We should consider what we are, and what the world is. We 
should learn to see the great moral fact in the world, and to reflect 
on the likelihood of our private "ideal" being anything more than 
an abstraction, which, because an abstraction, is all the better 
fitted for our heads, and all the worse fitted for actual existence. 

We should consider whether the encouraging oneself in having 
opinions of one's own, in the sense of thinking differently from the 
world on moral subjects, be not, in any person other than a 
heaven-born prophet, sheer self-conceit. And though the disease 
may spend itself in the harmless and even entertaining sillinesses 
by which we are advised to assert our social "individuality," yet 
still the having theories of one's own in the face of the world is 
not far from having practice in the same direction; and if the 
latter is (as it often must be) immorality, the former has certainly 
but stopped at the threshold. 

But the moral organism is strong against both. The person 
anxious to throw off the yoke of custom and develop his "indi- 
viduality" in startling directions, passes as a rule into the common 
Philistine, and learns that Philistinism is after all a good thing. 
And the licentious young man, anxious for pleasure at any price, 
who, without troubling himself about "principles," does put into 
practice the principles of the former person, finds after all that the 
self within him can be satisfied only with that from whence it 
came. And some fine morning the dream is gone, the enchanted 
bower is a hideous phantasm, and the despised and common 
reality has become the ideal. 

We have thus seen the community to be the real moral idea, to 
be stronger than the theories and the practice of its members 
against it, and to give us self-realization. And this is indeed 
limitation; it bids us say farewell to visions of superhuman 
morality, to ideal societies, and to practical "ideals" generally. 
But perhaps the unlimited is not the perfect nor the true ideal. 
And, leaving "ideals" out of sight, it is quite clear that if any- 
body wants to realize himself as a perfect man without trying to 
be a perfect member of his country and all his smaller com- 
munities, he makes what all sane persons would admit to be 
a great mistake. There is no more fatal enemy than theories 

136 Ethical Studies 

which are not also facts; and when people inveigh against 
the vulgar antithesis of the two, they themselves should accept 
their own doctrine, and give up the harboring of theories of 
what should be and is not. Until they do that, the vulgar 
are in the right; for a theory of that which (only) is to be, 
is a theory of that which in fact is not, and that I suppose is 
only a theory. 

There is nothing better than my station and its duties, nor any- 
thing higher or more truly beautiful. It holds and will hold its 
own against the worship of the "individual," whatever form that 
may take. It is strong against frantic theories and vehement 
passions, and in the end it triumphs over the fact and can smile 
at the literature, even of sentimentalism, however fulsome in its 
impulsive setting out, or sour in its disappointed end. It laughs 
at its frenzied apotheosis of the yet unsatisfied passion it calls 
love ; and at that embitterment too which has lost its illusions, and 
yet cannot let them go — with its kindness for the genius too clever 
in general to do anything in particular, and its adoration of star- 
gazing virgins with souls above their spheres, whose wish to be 
something in the world takes the form of wanting to do something 
with it, and who in the end do badly what they might have done 
in the beginning well; and, worse than all, its cynical contempt 
for what deserves only pity, sacrifice of a life for work to the best 
of one's lights, a sacrifice despised not simply because it has 
failed, but because it is stupid, and uninteresting, and altogether 

And all these books (ah! how many) it puts into the one scale, 
and with them the writers of them; and into the other scale it 
puts three such lines as these : 

"One place performs like any other place 

The proper service every place on earth 

Was framed to furnish man with" 

KOKKv, fieOelre' Kal iroXv ye KaTwripo) 
• X<i>ptl TO TOvSe, 

Have we still to ask, 

\ f »»\ V .15 

KOL TL irOT eaTL TaiTtOVf 

^"Arist. Frogs, 1384. Dionysos — Cuckoo! Let go the scales; Aeschylos' 

My Station And Its Duties 137 

The theory which we have just exhibited (more or less in our 
own way) , and over which perhaps we have heated ourselves a 
little, seems to us a great advance on anything we have had before, 
and indeed in the main to be satisfactory. It satisfies us because 
in it our wills attain their realization; the content of the will is a 
whole, is systematic; and it is the same whole on both sides. 
On the outside and -inside alike we have the same universal will 
in union with the particular personality; and in the identity of 
inside and outside in one single process we have reached the point 
where the "is to be," with all its contradictions, disappears, or 
remains but as a moment in a higher "is." 

Nonetheless, however, must we consider this satisfaction 
neither ultimate, nor all-inclusive, nor anything but precarious. 
If put forth as that beyond which we do not need to go, as the end 
in itself, it is open to very serious objections, some of which we 
must now develop. 

The point upon which "my station and its duties" prided itself 
most, was that it had got rid of the opposition of "ought" and "is" 
in both its forms; viz., the opposition of the outer world to the 
"ought" in me, and the opposition of my particular self to the 
"ought" in general. We shall have to see that it has not succeeded 
in doing either, or at least not completely. 

( 1 ) Within the sphere of my station and its duties the opposition 
is not vanquished; for: 

(a) It is impossible to maintain the doctrine of what may be 
called "justification by sight." The self cannot be so seen to be 
identified with the moral whole that the bad self disappears, 
(i) In the moral man the consciousness of that unity cannot 
be present always, but only when he is fully engaged in satisfac- 
tory work. Then, I think, it is present; but when he is not so 
engaged, and the bad self shows itself, he can scarcely be self- 
contented, or, if he is so, scarcely because he sees that the bad 
self is unreal. He can only forget his faults when he is too busy 
to think of them; and he can hardly be so always. And he can 
not always see that his faults do not matter to the moral order of 

side goes down, oh, much much the lowest, Euripides — Why, what ever is 
the reason? 

138 Ethical Studies 

things — when it comes to that he can only trust. Further, (ii) the 
more or less immoral man who, because of past offenses, is now 
unable to perform his due function, or to perform it duly, cannot 
always in his work gain once more the self-content he has lost 
because that very work tells him of what should have been, and 
now is not and will not be, and the habits he has formed perhaps 
drag him still into the faults that made them. We cannot, 
without taking a low point of view, ask that this man's life, 
morally considered, should be more than a struggle; and it would 
be the most untrue Pharisaism or indifferentism to call him 
immoral because he struggles, and so far as he struggles. Here 
justification by sight is out of the question. 

(b) Again, the moral man need not find himself realized in the 
world, (i) It is necessary to remark that the community in which 
he is a member may be in a confused or rotten condition, so 
that in it right and might do not always go together. And (ii) the 
very best community can only insure that correspondence in the 
gross; it cannot do so in every single detail, (iii) There are 
afflictions for which no moral organism has balm or physician, 
though it has alleviation; and these can mar the life of any man. 
(iv) The member may have to sacrifice himself for the com- 
munity. In none of these cases can he see his realization; 
and here again the contradiction breaks out, and we must wrap 
ourselves in a virtue which is our own and not the world's, or 
seek a higher doctrine by which, through faith and through faith 
alone, self-suppression issues in a higher self-realization. 

(2) Within the sphere of my station and its duties we see the 
contradiction is but partially solved, and the second objection is 
also very serious. You cannot confine a man to his station and 
its duties. Whether in another sense that formula would be all- 
embracing is a further question, but in the sense in which we took 
it, function in a "visible" community, it certainly is not so. And 
we must remark here in passing that, if we accept (as I think we 
must) the fact that the essence of a man involves identity with 
others, the question what the final reality of that identity is, is 
still left unanswered. We should still have to ask what is the 
higher whole in which the individual is a function, and in which 

My Station And Its Duties 139 

the relative wholes subsist, and to inquire whether that com- 
munity is, or can be, a visible community at all. 

Passing by this, however, let us develop our objection. A man 
cannot take his morality simply from the moral world he is in, for 
many reasons, (a) That moral world, being in a state of historical 
development, is not and cannot be self -consistent; and the man 
must thus stand before and above inconsistencies and reflect 
on them. This must lead to the knowledge that the world is not 
altogether as it should be, and to a process of trying to make it 
better. With this cooperates (b) what may be called cosmopolitan 
morality. Men nowadays know to some extent what is thought 
right and wrong in other communities now, and what has been 
thought at other times; and this leads to a notion of goodness 
not of any particular time and country. For numbers of persons 
no doubt this is unnecessary; but it is necessary for others, and 
they have the moral ideal (with the psychological origin of which 
we are not concerned) of a good man who is not good as member 
of this or that community, but who realizes himself in whatever 
community he finds himself. This, however, must mean also that 
he is not perfectly realized in any particular station. 

(3) We have seen that the moral man can to a certain extent 
distinguish his moral essence from his particular function; and 
now a third objection at once follows, that the content of the ideal 
self does not fall wholly within any community, is in short not 
merely the ideal of a perfect social being. The making myself 
better does not always directly involve relation to others. The 
production of truth and beauty (together with what is called 
"culture") may be recognized as a duty; and it will be very hard 
to reduce it in all cases to a duty of any station that I can see. 
If we like to say that these duties to myself are duties to humanity, 
that perhaps is true; but we must remember that humanity is not 
a visible community. If you mean by it only past, present, and 
future human beings, then you cannot show that in all cases my 
culture is of use (directly or indirectly) to anyone but myself. 
Unless you are prepared to restrict science and fine art to what is 
useful, i. e., to common arts and "accomplishments," you cannot 
hope to "verify" such an assertion. You are in the region of belief, 

140 Ethical Studies 

not knowledge ; and this equally whether your belief is true or false. 
We must say then that, in aiming at truth and beauty, we are try- 
ing to realize ourself not as a member of any visible community. 

And, finally, against this ideal self the particular person remains 
and must remain imperfect. The ideal self is not fully realized in 
us, in any way that we can see. We are aware of a ceaseless pro- 
cess, it is well if we can add progress, in which the false private 
self is constantly subdued but never disappears. And it never can 
disappear — we are never realized. The contradiction remains; 
and not to feel it demands something lower or something higher 
than a moral point of view. 

Starting from these objections, our next Essay must try to 
make more clear what is involved in them, and to raise in a 
sharper form the difficulties as to the nature of morality. And our 
Concluding Remarks will again take up the same thread, after we 
have in some measure investigated in Essay VII the difficult 
problems of the bad self and selfishness. 

Rights and Duties 

To handle this subject properly, more space would be wanted 
than I have at command. But I will make some remarks shortly 
and in outline. 

A great to-do has been made about the ambiguity of the word 
"right" ; as I think, needlessly. Right is the rule, and what is con- 
formable to the rule, whether that rule be physical or mental ; e. g., 
a right line, a "right English bull-dog" (Swift), a right conclusion, 
a right action. 

Right is, generally, the expression of the universal. It is the 
emphasis of the universal side in the relation of particular and 
universal. It implies particulars, and therefore possibility of dis- 
crepancy between them and the universal. Hence right means 
law; which law may be carried out or merely stated. "Is it right 
to do this?" means "is the universal realized in this?" "Have 
I a right?" means "am I in this the expression of law?" 

My Station And Its Duties 141 

In the moral sphere, with which alone we are concerned, right 
means always the relation of the universal to the particular will. 
The emphasis is on the universal. Possibility of discrepancy with 
a conscious subject makes law here command. 

Command is the simple proposal of an action (or abstinence) to 
me by another will, as the content of that will. Or, from the side of 
the commander, it is the willing by me of some state of another 
will, such willing being presented by me as a fact to that will. 
Threat is not of the essence of command ; command need not imply 
the holding forth or the anticipation of consequences. 

To have rights is not merely to be the object with respect to 
which commands (positive or prohibitory) are addressed to others. 
If that were so, inanimate matter would have rights; e. g., the very 
dirt in the road would "have a right" to be taken up or let lie — 
and this is barbarous. To have rights is to be (or to be presumed 
to be) capable of realizing the universal command consciously as 
such.^ This answers the question. Has a beast rights? He is the 
object of duties, not the subject of rights. Right is the universal 
in its relation to a will capable of recognizing it as such, whether 
it remain mere command or is also carried out in act. 

Wherever in the moral world you have law you have also right 
and rights. These may be real or ideal. The first are the will of 
the state or society, the second the will of the ideal-social or 
nonsocial ideal. {Vide Essay VI.) 

It is in order to secure the existence of right in the acts of par- 
ticular wills that compulsion is used. But compulsion is not 
necessary to the general and abstract definition of right, and it 
cannot be immediately deduced from it. 

^ "I have rights against others," or "I have a right to this or that from 
others," means, (1) it is right, it is the expression of the universal that they 
should do this or that in reference to me: I am the object of their duty. 
But this by itself does not give me "rights." To "have a right" to anything 
from another, I must (2) be a subject which knows the universal as such, 
both (a) in its immediate relation to my will, in its expression through my 
acts; and (b) also here in its expression through the acts of others, which 
acts may concern me. When my will as the universal, and the universal as 
my will, calls for these acts, then I "have a right" to them in the proper 
sense, but not otherwise. 

142 Ethical Studies 

What is duty? It is simply the other side of right. It is the 
same relation, viewed from the other pole or moment. It is the 
relation of the particular to the universal, with the emphasis on 
the particular. It is my will in its affirmative relation to the 
objective will. Right is the universal, existing for thought alone 
or also carried out. Duty is my will, either merely thought of as 
realizing this universal, or actually also doing so. "This is my 
duty" means "in this I identify, or am thought of as identifying, 
myself with right." 

Duty, like right, implies possible discordance of particular and 
universal. Like right, too, it implies more than this. It implies 
the consciousness (or presumed capacity for consciousness) of the 
relation of my will to the universal as the right. Hence a beast 
has no duties in the proper sense. If he has, then he has also 

Right is the universal will implying particular will. It is the 
objective side implying a subjective side, i. e., duty. Duty is the 
particular will implying a universal will. It is the subjective side 
implying an objective side, i. e., right. But the two sides are 
insepara|?le. No right without duty; no duty without right and 
rights. (To this we shall return.) 

Right and duty are sides of a single whole. This whole is the 
good. Rights and duties imply the identity, and nonidentity, of 
the particular and universal wills. Right may remain a mere 
command, duty a mere "ought to be," the nonagreement of the 
particular and universal. They are both abstractions. They are 
both, if fixed and isolated one from the other, self-contradictions. 
Each by itself is a mere "is to be," each a willed idea, which, so 
long as apart from the other, remains a mere, i. e., a no^willed, 
idea. Each is a single side of one and the same relation, fixed apart 
from the other side. In the good the sides come together, and 
in the whole first cease to be abstractions and gain real existence. 
The right is carried out in duty. The duty realizes itself in the 

But in the good rights and duties as such disappear. There is 
no more mere right or mere duty, no more particular and universal 
as such, no external relation of the two. They are now sides and 

My Station And Its Duties 143 

elements in one whole ; and, if they appear, it is only as, within the 
movement and life of the whole, here one element and there 
another has its relative emphasis. But outside the whole their 
reality fades into "mere idea," into legend and fable. 

Rights and duties do not exist outside the moral world; and 
that world does not exist where there is not a sphere of inner 
morality, however immediate, the consciousness, however vague, 
of the relation of the private will to the universal, whether that 
universal be presented as outer (in the shape of tribal custom or 
of some individual) or again as inner. Where there is no morality 
there is no right ; where there is no right there are no rights. Just 
so, where there are no rights there is no right, and where no right 
there no morality. Inner morality without an objective right and 
wrong is a self-delusion. Right and rights outside morality are a 
mere fiction. 

It is here that every partial theory of morals and politics is 
wrecked and seen to be worthless. False theories of right either 
(1) fail to get to any objective universal except by some fond 
invention (of contract), which, besides being an invention, pre- 
supposes what it is to create. (A contract outside the sphere of 
right and morality is nonsense.) Or (2) they take an objective 
universal (as positive law, will of the monarch, or what seems 
most convenient to the majority) ; and here they fail because their 
right is mere force, and is not moral, not right at all; and hence 
they cannot show that I am in the right to obey it, or in the 
wrong to disobey it, but merely that, if I do not obey it, it may (or 
may not) be inconvenient for me. So again in morals they either 
(1) posit a universal, such as the will of the Deity or of other 
human beings; and this fails because in it I do not affirm my self; 
or else (2) there is nothing anywhere objective and universal at 
all; and here I affirm nothing hut myself. In either case there is 
no duty and no morality. 

"But rights and duties," we shall be told, "collide." They collide 
only as rights do with rights or duties with duties. Rights and 
duties of one sphere collide with those of another sphere, and 
again within each sphere they collide in different persons, and 
again in one and the same person. But that right as such can 

144 Ethical Studies 

collide with duty as such is impossible. There is no right which 
is not a duty, no duty which is not a right. In either case right 
would cease to be right, and duty duty. 

This will be denied. It will be said, (1) there are duties with- 
out rights; (2) rights without duties. As to the first (1) we ^ 
say, If we have not a right to do anything, it is not right for us. 
If it is not right for us, then it is not our duty. It is quite true 
that moral duty may not be legal right, nor legal duty moral right, 
but this is not to the point. 

As to the second (2), it seems harder to see that where I have 
no duties I have no rights. In the spheres of the state, of society, 
of ideal morality, I have a right to do this and not that, that and 
not the other. But can it be said that all these things that I have 
a right to do are my duties? Is not that nonsense? 

No doubt there is much truth in this. It is almost as bad to 
have nothing but duties as it is to have no duties at all. For free 
individual self- development we must have both elements. Where 
the universal is all there is ossification; where the particular is all 
there is dissolution; in neither case life. 

Is it true then that there are rights where there are no duties? 
No. In a sense, rights are wider than duties: but what does this 
mean? Does it mean there are rights outside the moral sphere? 
Certainly not. We shall see (Essay VI) that there is no limit to 
the moral sphere; and if there were a limit, then outside that 
rights would cease to be rights. "More rights than duties" then 
must be true, if at all, within the moral sphere. Does it hold 
there that there are more rights than duties ? It is not a very hard 
puzzle. To make it easier let us double it, and say "there are 
more duties than rights." A man, for instance, has a certain 
indivisible sum to spend in charity. He has a duty to A, B, and 
C, but not a right to more than one because it is wrong if he 
gives more than his indivisible limited sum. Hence there are 
more duties than rights. All that it comes to is that, when you 
look on duties as possible, they are wider than what, when 
actually done, is right and actual duty. Just so possible rights 
are wider than what is actually duty and actually right. 

The reason why this is noticed on the side of rights, and not 

My Station And Its Duties 145 

on the side of duty, is very simple. We saw above that in 
right the emphasis is on the universal side. Now every act is a 
determined this or that act, and what makes it a this or that act is 
the particularization. What I have a right to do thus depends on 
what my duty is; for duty, we saw, emphasized the particular 
side. Now, where there are no indifferents and no choice between 
them, rights are never wider than duties. It is where indifferents 
come in (cf. Essay VI), that possibility is wider than actuality. 
And because right emphasizes the side common to all the 
indifferents, i. e., the undetermined side, it is therefore wider than 
duty, which emphasizes the particular side, and hence is narrower. 

Thus, where the choice of my particular will comes in, that has 
rights and must be respected. But it has rights only because the 
sphere of its exercise, and therefore what it does therein, is duty. 
And it must be respected by others only so far as it thus expresses 
the universal will. If it has not right on its side, it has no rights 

There is indeed a sphere where rights seem in collision with 
right. Wherever you have law you have this, since it comes 
from the nature of law. Thus I am yw^fified in returning evil for 
evil; I have a right to do it, even where it is not right but wrong 
to do it. The same thing is found in the spheres of state law, 
social law, and mere moral law alike. This does not show that in 
these cases there is no moral universal; it shows that we are 
keeping to nothing but the universal. We have here the distinc- 
tion of justice and equity. A merely just^ act may (we all know) 
be most unjust. The universal as law must be the same for all: 
it cannot be specified to meet every particular case. Hence, in 
keeping to this unspecified universal, I have "right" on my side: 
but again, failing to specify it in my case, I do what is not right 
for me to do. I fail in duty, do not do, and am not, right. 

The sphere of mere private right in the state cannot exist out 

^ What is justice? I have no space to develop or illustrate, but will set 
down what seems to be the fact. The just does not = right; injustice does 
not z=. wrong. Justice does not ■=. giving to each deserts: "nothing but 
justice" may be less or more than my deserts. Justice is not mere conform- 
ing to law; injustice is not mere acting against law; e. g., murder is not 

146 Ethical Studies 

of the moral whole. It is, for the sake of the development of the 
whole, created and kept up in the whole, but merely at the 
pleasure of the whole. Just so in morals there is a sphere of 
private liking, the sphere of indifferents, but this exists only 
because it ought to exist, only because duty is realized in its 
existence, though not by its particulars as particulars, i. e., as this 
one against that one. The sphere of private right has rights only 
so long as it is right and is duty. It exists merely on sufferance; 
and the moment the right of the whole demands its suppression 
it has no rights. Public right everywhere overrides it in practice, 
if not in theory. This is the justification of such things as forcible 
expropriation, conscription, etc. The only proper way of regard- 
ing them is to say. In developing my property, etc., as this or that 
man, I am doing my duty to the state, for the state lives in its 
individuals : and I do my duty again in another way by giving up 
to the use of the state my property and person, for the individual 
lives in the state. What other view will justify the facts of 
political life? 

To repeat then: Right is the assertion of the universal will in 
relation to the particular will. Duty is the assertion of the 
particular will in the afiBrmation of the universal. Good is the 
identity, not the mere relation, of both. Right may be real, may 
actually exist; or be only ideal, merely thought of. So may duty. 
Rights and duties are elements in the good; they must go 
together. The universal cannot be affirmed except in the partic- 
ular, the particular only affirms itself in the universal; but they 
should be suppressed in the good as anything more than elements, 
which reciprocally supplement each other, and should be regarded 
as two sides to one whole. It is not moral to stand on one's 

called "unjust." Justice and injustice mean this, but they imply something 

Injustice is, while you explicitly or implicity profess to go on a rule, the 
not going merely on the rule, but the making exceptions in favor of persons. 
Justice is the really going by nothing but one's ostensible rule in assigning 
advantage and disadvantage to persons. 

What the rule is, is another matter. The rule may be the morally right. 
This is ideal justice. All lower sorts of law furnish each its own lower 
justice and injustice. 

My Station And Its Duties 147 

rights with the right; i. e., right should not be mere right: nor 
moral to make a duty of all one's duties; i. e., duty should not 
be mere duty. 

We maintain the following theses. (1) It is false that you can 
have rights without duties. (2) It is false that you can have 
duties without rights. (3) It is false that right is merely negative.* 
(4) It is false that duty depends on possible compulsion, and a 
mere mistake that command always implies a threat; and (5) It 
is absolutely false that rights or duties can exist outside the moral 

' Schopenhauer has developed this view with great clearness. He goes so 
far as to make wrong the original positive conception, right the mere 
negation of it. 


THE position we are now in can be put very shortly. Morality 
is an endless process and therefore a self-contradiction and, 
being such, it does not remain standing in itself, but feels the 
impulse to transcend its existing reality. 

It is a self-contradiction in this way: it is a demand for what 
cannot be. Nothing is good but the good will; nothing is to 
be real but the good; and yet the reality is not wholly good. 
Neither in me, nor in the world, is what ought to be what is, 
and what is what ought to be; and the claim remains in the end 
a mere claim. 

The reason of the contradiction is the fact that man is a con- 
tradiction. But man is more; he feels or knows himself as such, 
and this makes a vital difference; for to feel a contradiction is 
ipso facto to be above it. Otherwise, how would it be possible to 
feel it? A felt contradiction which does not imply, beside its 
two poles, a unity which includes and is above them, will, the 
more it is reflected on, the more be seen to be altogether un- 
meaning. Unless man was and divined himself to be a whole, he 

148 Ethical Studies 

could not feel the eontradiction, still less feel pain in it, and 
reject it as foreign to his real nature. 

So we see that the moral point of view, which leaves man in a 
sphere with which he is not satisfied, cannot be final. This or 
that human being, this or that passing stage of culture, may 
remain in this region of weariness, of false self-approval and no 
less false self -contempt ; but for the race, as a whole, this is im- 
posssible. It has not done it; and, while man is man, it certainly 
never will do it. 

And here we should close these Essays, since here we go beyond 
morality. But, that we may make the foregoing plainer, we are 
tempted to say something more, however fragmentary, however 
much in the form of an appendix.^ 

Reflection on morality leads us beyond it. It leads us, in 
short, to see the necessity of a religious point of view. It cer- 
tainly does not tell us that morality comes first in the world 
and then religion. What it tells us is that morality is imperfect, 
and imperfect in such a way as implies a higher, which is religion. 

Morality issues in religion; and at this word "religion" the 
ordinary reader is upon us with cries and questions, and with all 
the problems of the day — God, and personal God, immortality of 
the soul, the conflict of revelation and science, and who knows 
what beside? He must not expect any answer to these questions 
here; we are writing a mere appendix; and in that our object is 
to show that religion, as a matter of fact, does give us what 
morality does not give; and our method is simply, so far as our 
purpose requires, to point to the facts of the religious conscious- 
ness without drawing conclusions to the right or left, without 
trying to go much below the surface, or doing anything beyond 
what is wanted in this connection with morality. 

We purpose to say nothing about the ultimate truth of religion 
— nothing again about its origin in the world, or in the individual. 
We are to take the religious consciousness as an existing fact, 
and to take it as we find it now in the modern Christian mind, 
whether that mind recognizes it or whether it does not. And 

^ Throughout the sequel I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to Vatke's 
book, Die menschliche Freiheit, 1841. 

Concluding Remarks 149 

lastly, space compels us to do no more than dogmatically assert 
what seems to us to be true in respect of it. 

That there is some connection between true religion and morality 
everyone we need consider sees. A man who is "religious" and 
does not act morally, is an impostor, or his religion is a false one. 
This does not hold good elsewhere. A philosopher may be a 
good philosopher, and yet, taking him as a whole, may be im- 
moral; and the same thing is true of an artist, or even of a 
theologian. They may all be good, and yet not good men; but 
no one who knew what true religion was would call a man, who 
on the whole was immoral, a religious man. For religion is not 
the mere knowing or contemplating of any object, however high. 
It is not mere philosophy nor art because it is not mere seeing, no 
mere theoretic activity, considered as such or merely from its 
theoretical side. The religious consciousness tells us that a man 
is not religious, or more religious, because the matter of his 
theoretic activity is religious; just as the moral consciousness told 
us that a man was not moral, or more moral, simply because he 
was a moral philosopher. Religion is essentially a doing, and a 
doing which is moral. It implies a realizing, and a realizing of 
the good self. 

Are we to say then that morality is religion? Most certainly 
not. In morality the ideal is not: it forever remains a "to be." 
The reality in us or the world is partial and inadequate; and no 
one could say that it answers to the ideal, that, morally con- 
sidered, both we and the world are all we ought to be, and ought 
to be just what we are. We have at furthest the belief in an ideal 
which in its pure completeness is never real; which, as an ideal, 
is a mere "should be." And the question is. Will that do for 
religion? No knower of religion, who was not led away by a 
theory, would answer Yes. Nor does it help us to say that 
religion is "morality touched by emotion"; for loose phrases of 
this sort may suggest to the reader what he knows already with- 
out their help, but, properly speaking, they say nothing. All 
morality is, in one sense or another, "touched by emotion." Most 
emotions, high or low, can go with and "touch" morality; and 
the moment we leave our phrase-making, and begin to reflect, we 

150 Ethical Studies 

see all that is meant is that morality "touched" by religious emo- 
tion is religious; and so, as answer to the question What is 
religion? all that we have said is "It is religion when with 
morality you have — religion." I do not think we learn a very 
great deal from this/ 

Religion is more than morality. In the religious consciousness 
we find the belief, however vague and indistinct, in an object, a 
not-myself; an object, further, which is real. An ideal which is 
not real, which is only in our heads, cannot be the object of 
religion; and in particular the ideal self, as the "is to be" which 
is real only so far as we put it forth by our wills, and which, as an 
ideal, we cannot put forth, is not a real object, and so not the 
object for religion. Hence, because it is unreal, the ideal of 
personal morality is not enough for religion. And we have seen 
before that the ideal is not realized in the objective world of the 
state; so that, apart from other objections, here again we cannot 
find the religious object. For the religious consciousness that 
object is real; and it is not to be found in the mere moral sphere. 

But here once more "culture" has come to our aid, and has 
shown us how here, as everywhere, the study of polite literature, 
which makes for meekness, makes needless also all further educa- 
tion; and we felt already as if the clouds that metaphysic had 
wrapped about the matter were dissolving in the light of a fresh 
and sweet intelligence. And, as we turned toward the dawn, we 
sighed over poor Hegel, who had read neither Goethe nor Homer, 
nor the Old and New Testaments, nor any of the literature which 
has gone to form "culture," but, knowing no facts, and reading no 
books, nor ever asking himself "such a tyro's question as what 

" Compare (Mill, Dissertations, I, 70-1) the definition of poetry as "man's 
thoughts tinged by his feelings"; where the whole matter again is, what 
feelings? Anything in the way of shallow reflection on the psychological 
form, anything rather than the effort to grasp the content. All that Mill saw 
wanting in this "definition" was that it missed "the poet's utter uncon- 
sciousness of a listener." However, to make sure of hitting the mark, he, 
80 to speak, set it down as hit beforehand, and in his own "definition" of 
poetry introduced "the poet's mind." This is much as if we were to say, 
"Religion is the sort of thing you have in a religious man." 

Concluding Remarks 151 

being really was,'" sat spinning out of his head those foolish logo- 
machies, which impose on no person of refinement. 

Well, culture has told us what God was for the Jews; and we 
learn that "I am that I am" means much the same as "I blow 
and grow, that I do," or "I shall breathe, that I shall"; and this, 
if surprising, was at all events definite, not to say tangible. How- 
ever, to those of us who do not think that Christianity is called 
upon to wrap itself any longer in "Hebrew old clothes," all this is 
entirely a matter for the historian. But when "culture" went on 
to tell us what God is for science, we heard words we did not 
understand about "streams," and "tendencies," and "the Eternal"; 
and, had it been anyone else that we were reading, we should 
have said that, in some literary excursion, they had picked up a 
metaphysical theory, now out of date, and putting it in phrases 
the meaning of which they had never asked themselves, had then 
served it up to the public as the last result of speculation, or of 
that "flexible common sense" which is so much better. And as 
this in the case of "culture" and "criticism" was of course not 
possible, we concluded that for us once again the light had shone 
in darkness. But the "stream" and the "tendency" having served 
their turn, like last week's placards, now fall into the background, 
and we learn at last* that "the Eternal" is not eternal at all, unless 
we give that name to whatever a generation sees happen, and 
believes both has happened and will happen — just as the habit 
of washing ourselves might be termed "the Eternal not ourselves 
that makes for cleanliness," or "Early to bed and early to rise" 
the "Eternal not ourselves that makes for longevity," and so on — 
that "the Eternal," in short, is nothing in the world but a piece 
of literary clap-trap. The consequence is that all we are left 
with is the assertion that "righteousness" is "salvation" or "wel- 
fare," and that there is a "law" and a "Power" which has some- 
thing to do with this fact ; and here again we must not be ashamed 
to say that we fail to understand what any one of these phrases 
mean, and suspect ourselves once more to be on the scent of 

' Contemporary Review, XXIV, 988. 
*Ibid, p. 995. 

152 Ethical Studies 

If what is meant be this, that what is ordinarily called virtue 
does always lead to and go with what is ordinarily called happi- 
ness, then so far is this from being "verifiable"^ in everyday 
experience, that its opposite is so; it is not a fact, either that to 
be virtuous is always to be happy or that happiness must always 
come from virtue. Everybody knows this, Mr. Arnold "must 
know this, and yet he gives it, because it suits his purpose, or be- 
cause the public, or a large body of the public, desire it; and this 
is clap-trap."* 

It is not a fact that to be virtuous is always, and for that reason, 
to be happy; and, even were it so, yet such a fact cannot be the 
object of the religious consciousness. The reality, which answers 
to the phrases of culture, is, we suppose, the real existence of the 
phrases as such in books or in our heads; or again a number of 
events in time, past, present, and future {i. e., conjunctions of 
virtue and happiness) . We have an abstract term to stand for the 
abstraction of this or that quality; or again we have a series or 
collection of particular occurrences. When the literary varnish is 
removed, is there anything more?^ But the object of the religious 
consciousness must be a great deal more. It must be what is real, 
not only in the heads of this person or set of persons, nor again 
as this or that finite something or set of somethings. It is in short 

° We hear the word "verifiable" from Mr. Arnold pretty often. What is to 
verify? Has Mr. Arnold put "such a tyro's question" to himself? If to 
verify means to find in outward experience, then the object of true religion 
cannot be found as this or that outward thing or quality, and so cannot be 
verified. It is of its essence that in this sense it should be unverifiable. 

^Op. cit., p. 804. 

^ "Is there a God?" asks the reader. "Oh yes," replies Mr. Arnold, "and I 
can verify him in experience." "And what is he then?" cries the reader. "Be 
virtuous, and as a rule you will be happy," is the answer. "Well, and God?" 
"That is God"; says Mr. Arnold, "There is no deception, and what more do 
you want?" I suppose we do want a good deal more. Most of us, certainly 
the public which Mr. Arnold addresses, want something they can worship; 
and they will not find that in an hypostasized copy-book heading, which is 
not much more adorable than "Honesty is the best policy," or "Handsome is 
that handsome does," or various other edifying maxims which have not yet 
come to an apotheosis. 

Concluding Remarks 153 

very different from either those thin abstractions or coarse "verifi- 
able" facts, between which and over which there is for our "cul- 
ture" no higher third sphere, save that of the literary groping 
which is helpless as soon as it ceases to be blind. 

But let us turn from this trifling, on which we are sorry to have 
been forced to say even one word; let us go back to the religious 

Religion, we have seen, must have an object; and that object 
is neither an abstract idea in the head, nor one particular thing or 
quality, nor any collection of such things or qualities, nor any 
phrase which stands for one of them or a collection of them. In 
short, it is nothing finite. It cannot be a thing or person in the 
world; it cannot exist in the world, as a part of it, or as this or 
that course of events in time; it cannot be the "All," the sum of 
things or persons — since, if one is not divine, no putting of ones 
together will beget divinity. All this it is not. Its positive 
character is that it is real; and further, on examining what we 
find in the religious consciousness," we discover that it is the ideal 
self considered as realized and real. The ideal self, which in 
morality is to be, is here the real ideal which truly is. 

For morals the ideal self was an "ought," an "is to be" that is 
not; the object of religion is that same ideal self, but here it no 
longer only ought to be, but also is. This is the nature of the 
religious object, though the manner of apprehending it may differ 
widely, may be anything from the vaguest instinct to the most 
thoughtful reflection. 

With religion we may here compare science and art. The 
artist and poet, however obscurely, do feel and believe that beauty, 
where it is not seen, yet somehow and somewhere is and is real; 
though not as a mere idea in people's heads, nor yet as anything 
in the visible world. And science, however dimly, starts from 
and rests upon the preconception that, even against appearances, 
reason not only ought to be, but really is. 

Is then religion a mere mode of theoretic creation and con- 
templation, like art and science? Is it a lower form or stage of 

* The reader must carefully distinguish what is for (or before) the 
religious consciousness, and what is only in it, and for us as we investigate it. 

154 Ethical Studies 

philosophy, or another sort of art, or some kind of compound 
mixture? It is none of these, and between it and them there is a 
vital difference. 

In the very essence of the religious consciousness we find the 
relation of our will to the real ideal self. We find ourselves, as 
this or that will, against the object as the real ideal will, which 
is not ourselves, and which stands to us in such a way that, 
though real, it is to be realized, because it is all and the whole 

A statement, no doubt, which may stagger us ; but the statement, 
we maintain, of a simple fact of the religious consciousness. If 
anyone likes to call it a delusion, that makes no difference; 
unless, as some people seem to think, you can get rid of facts by 
applying phrases to them. And, however surprising the fact may 
be to the reader, it certainly ought not to be new to him. 

We find the same difficulty, that the real is to be realized, both 
in art and science. The self dimly feels, or forefeels, itself as full 
of truth and beauty, and unconsciously sets that fullness before it 
as an object, a not-itself which is against itself as this or that man. 
And so the self goes on to realize what it obscurely foreknows 
as real; it realizes it, although, and because, it is aware of it 
as real. And in this, so far, art, philosophy, and religion are 
the same. 

But, as we saw, they are also different. In art and science the 
will of the man who realizes is not of the essence. The essence 
of the matter is that a certain result should be produced, that, 
of the unseen object which is divined to be real, a part at least 
should become visible, that in short, however it comes about, 
some element of the real should be seen to be realized. Here the 
end is the sight of the object, as such, and the will which procures 
that sight is not taken into account. No doubt it would be a 
great mistake to forget that art and science involve will, and the 
will of particular persons, and that it is this will which realizes the 
object; and that hence, since the object of science and art is at 
least partly identical with the object of religion, both science and 
art may so far be said to imply religion, since they imply the 
relation of the particular will to the real ideal. For suppose that 

Concluding Remarks 155 

the human-divine life is one process, and suppose again that art 
and science and religion are distinguishable elements or aspects 
of this one whole process. Then, if this is so, neither art nor 
science nor religion can exist as a thing by itself, and the two 
former will necessarily imply the latter. But on the other hand, 
though we may not divide, yet we have to distinguish; and when 
by an abstraction we consider one side, e. g., the side of science or 
that of art, by itself, and take them as mere theoretic activities, 
then we must say that in this character neither of them is religion ; 
and they are not religion because the will of this or that man, 
over against the real ideal as will, is not an element in the 
scientific or artistic process as such. The real ideal of science 
and art is not will, and the relation of my will to it falls outside 
them; and we must say, and we think that the reader will agree, 
that, so soon as the philosopher or artist is conscious of his will 
in relation to the real ideal, as a will which has demands on him, 
he ceases to be a mere philosopher or artist as such (which after 
all no human being is), and becomes also religious or irreligious. 

To proceed, we find in the religious consciousness the ideal 
self as the complete reality and we have, beside, its claim upon us. 
Both elements, and their relation, are given in one and the same 
consciousness. We are given as this will, which, because this 
will, is to realize the real ideal; the real ideal is given as the will 
which is wholly real, and therefore to be realized in us. 

Now nothing is easier than for a one-sided reflection to rush 
in with a cry for clearness and consistency, and to apply its 
favorite "either — or." "// real, how realize? // realize, then 
not real." We, however, must not allow ourselves to give way to 
the desire for drawing conclusions, but have to observe the farts; 
and we see that the religious consciousness refuses the dilemma. 
It holds to both one and the other, and to one because of the 
other, and pronounces such reflections irreligious. 

In the moral consciousness we found two poles, myself and the 
ideal self. The latter claimed to be real, and to have all as its 
reality; but, for the moral consciousness, it was not thus real 
either in the world or in us, and the evil in us and the world was 
as real. In religion we find once more two poles, myself and the 

156 Ethical Studies 

ideal self. But here the latter not only claims to be, but also is 
real and all reality; and yet (at this stage*) it is not realized either 
in the world or in me. It is not one pole, however, that in 
religion is different, but both: for morality the world and the self 
remained both nonmoral and immoral, yet each was real; for 
religion the world is alienated from God, and the self is sunk in 
sin; and that means that, against the whole reality, they are felt 
or known as what is not and is contrary to the all and the only 
real, and yet as things that exist. In sin the self feels itself in 
contradiction with all that truly is. It is the unreal, that, knowing 
itself to be so, contradicts itself as the real; it is the real, which, 
feeling itself to be so, contradicts itself as the unreal, and in the 
pain of its intolerable discord can find no word so strong, no 
image so glaring as to portray its torment. 

For it really is itself, against which, in sin, it feels itself. We 
cannot stay to develop this doctrine, and must content ourselves 
with pointing out that the opposite is utterly incomprehensible. 
The two poles are what they are, because they are against each 
other in consciousness. In them the self feels itself divided 
against itself; and, unless they both fall within one subject, how 
is this possible? We have not the felt struggle of ourself against 
a perceived or thought external object; we have the felt struggle 
in us of two wills, with both of which we feel ourselves identified. 
And this relation of the divine and human will in one subject is 
a psychological impossibility, unless they are the wills of one 
subject. Remove that condition, and the phenomena in their 
specific character instantly disappear. You cannot understand 
the recognition of and desire for the divine will; nor the con- 
sciousness of sin and rebellion, with the need for grace on the 
one hand and its supply on the other; you turn every fact of 
religion into unmeaning nonsense, and you pluck up by the root 
and utterly destroy all possibility of the Atonement, when you 

" The thoughtful reader may at once object that here we have an incom- 
plete account of religion. That is quite true, and we purposely delay the 
consideration of religion as a whole. Here we are insisting on certain 
elements of the religious consciousness, in order to see that they are no 
more than elements, which call for comprehension in something higher. 

Concluding Remarks 157 

deny that the religious consciousness implies that God and man 
are identical in a subject/** 

'°0n this whole matter, and not specially with reference to religion, it is 
worth while to consider the position of our philosophy. People find a subject 
and object correlated in consciousness; and, having got this in the mind, 
they at once project it outside the mind, and talk as if two independent 
realities knocked themselves together, and so produced the unity that appre- 
hends them; while, all the time, to go out of that unity is for us literally to 
go out of our minds. And when the monstrous nature of their position 
dawns on some few, and they begin to see that without some higher unity 
this "correlation" is pure nonsense, then answermg to that felt need, they 
invent a third reality, which is neither subject nor object but the "Unknow- 
able" or the Thing-in-itself (there is no difference) , But here, since the two 
correlates are still left together with, and yet are not, the Unknowable, the 
question arises. How does this latter stand to them? and the result is that 
the Unknowable becomes the subject of predicates (see Mr. Spencer's First 
Principles) , and it becomes impossible for any one who cares for consistency 
to go on calling it the Unknowable. So it is necessary to go a step further, 
and giving up our third, which is not the correlates, to recognize an Identity 
of subject and object, still however persisting in the statement that this 
identity is not mind. But here again, as with the Unknowable, and as 
before with the two correlated realities, it is forgotten that, when mind 
is made only a part of the whole, there is a question which must be 
answered; "If so, how can the whole be known, and for the mind? If about 
any matter we know nothing whatever, can we say anything about it? Can 
we even say that it is? And, if it is not in consciousness, how can we know 
it? And if it is in and for the mind, how can it be a whole which is not 
mind, and in which the mind is only a part or element? If the ultimate 
unity were not self or mind, we could not know that it was not mind: that 
would mean going out of our minds. And, conversely, if we know it, it 
cannot be not mind. All, in short, we can know (the psychological form is 
another question) is the self and elements in the self. To know a not-self is 
to transcend and leave one's mind. If we know the whole it can only be 
because the whole knows itself in us, because the whole is self or mind, 
which is and knows, knows and is, the identity and correlation of subject 
and object." 

There is nothing in the above which has not been before the world for 
years, and it is time that it should be admitted or refuted. I think it will not 
be much longer disregarded. Much against its will English thought has been 
forced from the correlation as far as the identity; and, if it means to hold to 
the doctrine of "relativity of knowledge," it must go on to mind or self in 
some sense of the word, as this identity of inner and outer. Perhaps not 
that; but if not that, then I think we must begin on a fresh basis, or else 

158 Ethical Studies 

For it is the atonement, the reconciliation (call it what you 
please, and bring it before your mind in the way most easy to 
you) , to which we must come, if we mean to follow the facts of the 
religious consciousness. Here, as everywhere, the felt contradic- 
tion implies, and is only possible through, a unity above the 
discord — ^take that away, and the discord goes. The antithesis 
of the sinful and divine will is implicitly their union; and that 
union, in the subject, requires only to be made explicit, for the 
subject, by thought and will. 

But for the subject it is not yet explicit; and it is only we who 
reflect upon the religious consciousness, that see the matter thus. 
That consciousness as such has not the insight that the divine will 
is the will of its own true and inmost self: I may know that, as a 
fact, in God there is the unity of the two natures; but for me God 
is (here at least) only not my self; the divine is an object between 
which and me there is a chasm; my inner self may desire it, but 
can only desire it as an other and a beyond. True that the object is 
already the identity of God and man, but man does not include 
me: that object is not in me, it is only for me; it remains an object, 
and I remain outside. And for the religious consciousness the prob- 
lem is. How can I be reconciled with this will which is not mine? 

And the answer is that in the object the reconciliation of the 
divine and human is real; the principle is there already; and in 
its reality, the reality of the reconciliation of the human as such, 
is ideally contained my reconciliation. Yes, mine is there if only 
I can take hold of it, if only I can make it my own; but how 
with the sin that adheres to me can this ever be? How can the 
human-divine ideal ever be my will? 

The answer is. Your will it never can be as the will of your 
private self, so that your private self should become wholly good. 
To that self you must die, and by faith be made one with the 
ideal. You must resolve to give up your will, as the mere will 
of this or that man, and you must put your whole self, your 

give up the attempt to have any theory of first principles. But if we do (as 
perhaps we may do) the latter, then let me conclude this note by observing 
that amongst the other doctrines which must go is the doctrine of Relativity. 

Concluding Remarks 159 

entire will, into the will of the divine. That must be your one 
self, as it is your true self; that you must hold to both with 
thought and will, and all other you must renounce; you must 
both refuse to recognize it as yours, and practically with your 
whole self deny it. You must believe that you too really are one 
with the divine, and must act as if you believed it. In short, you 
must be justified not by works but solely by faith. This doctrine, 
which Protestantism, to its eternal glory, has made its own and 
sealed with its blood, is the very center of Christianity; and, 
where you have not this in one form or another, there Chris- 
tianity is nothing but a name. 

In mere morality this faith is impossible. There you have not 
a real unity of the divine and human with which to identify 
yourself; and there again the self, which is outside the ideal, is 
not known as unreal, and cannot be, since the ideal is not all 

But what is faith? It is perhaps not an easy question to 
answer, but in some sort it must be answered; and to neglect it 
as worthless or stand aloof from it as a mystery, are both wrong 
positions. It is easy to say what faith is not. It is not mere 
belief, the simple holding for true or fact; it is no mere theoretic 
act of judgment.^^ Everyone knows you may have this, and yet 
not have faith. 

Faith does imply belief, but more than this, it implies also 
will. If my will is not identified with that which I hold for fact, 
I have not faith in it. Faith is both the belief in the reality of an 
object, and the will that that object be real, and where either of 
these elements fails, there is no faith. But even this is not all. 
When Mr. Bain, for instance, (p. 526) says, "The infant who has 
found the way to the mother's breast for food, and to her side for 
warmth, has made progress in the power of faith," we are struck 
at once by an incongruity. That the child who is most forward 
in a matter of this sort, is most likely in after life to have what 

" I use belief in the ordinary sense. Of course our account of the matter 
is wrong if all belief is practical. This Mr. Bain {Emotions, 2nd ed., p. 524 
and ff.) tries to show, as it seems to us, at the expense of facts, and with 
not sufficient success to warrant our entering on the matter. 

160 Ethical Studies 

we call faith, we see no reason to believe; that he has it already, 
we see is an absurdity. And we found above (p. 119) that, even 
in "My Station and its Duties," we could not properly speak of 
faith because there was there what might be called sight. 

What does this point to? Does it mean that faith implies un- 
certainty, or defective knowledge; and that this is the reason why, 
wnere you see, you cannot have faith? No, this we think is a 
mistaken view, and the facts confute it. Certainly you may have 
faith without feeling sure of the fact; but, generally speaking, a 
doubt about the fact weakens faith. Nor is it the case that 
theoretic certainty excludes faith. If it were so, the raising of 
belief with doubt to belief without doubt would ipso facto destroy 
faith; and this is not so. 

We cannot maintain that, when mere belief is raised to specu- 
lative certainty, the necessity for faith disappears; or further, that 
faith is here impossible. We must try to show the cause of the 
error. What can be said in its favor is this, that sight does 
exclude faith; and hence faith is not imagined to exist in the 
Paradise after death, nor, I suppose, in ecstatic vision during 
life. This is all consistent; but what it points to is the fact that 
faith is incompatible, not with such and such a degree, but with 
such and such a kind of knowledge. Faith is incompatible with 
common immediate sensuous knowing, or with a higher knowledge 
of the same simple direct nature; and, because our knowledge of 
the highest is, in religion, not thus immediate, therefore we are 
said to have only faith; and faith is, by a confusion, supposed 
to exclude, not one kind of certainty, but all kinds. Whence the 
above mistake, which, however, has a truth in it. 

Why is it then that faith is incompatible with sensuous knowl- 
edge? It is because, in religious language, faith is a rise beyond 
"this world," and a rise in which I stay here. What does this 
mean? Does it mean that the object must not be a part of the 
visible world? It means this, and more; faith implies the rise in 
thought, but not that only; it implies also the rise of the will to 
the object, which is not seen but thought. And this presupposes 
the practical separation for me of myself and the object. In the 
mere theoretic rise I do not think of myself, but only of the 

Concluding Remarks 161 

object: in faith I must also have myself before me; I must 
perceive the chasm between myself, as this or that unreal part of 
the unreal finite world, and at the same time must perceive the 
ideal-real object, which is all reality, and my true reality. And it 
is this presupposed consciousness of absolute separation (which, 
in terms of space or time, we express by "this world" and the 
"other world") which is necessary for faith, and which survives 
therein as a suppressed element. Hence, where this is not, faith 
cannot be. 

Faith then is the recognition of my true self in the religious 
object, and the identification of myself with that both by judg- 
ment and will; the determination to negate the self opposed to the 
object by making the whole self one with what it really is. It is, 
in a word, of the heart.^^ It is the belief that only the ideal is 
real, and the will to realize therefore nothing but the ideal, the 
theoretical and practical assertion that only as ideal is the self real. 

Justification by faith means that having thus identified myself 
with the object, I feel myself in that identification to be already 
one with it, and to enjoy the bliss of being, all falsehood overcome, 
what I truly am. By my claim to be one with the ideal, which 
comprehends me too, and by assertion of the nonreality of all that 
is opposed to it, the evil in the world and the evil incarnate in me 
through past bad acts, all this falls into the unreal: I being one 
with the ideal, this is not mine, and so imputation of offenses 
goes with the change of self, and applies not now to my true 
self, but to the unreal, which I repudiate and hand over to 

^^ "True faith is no mere thought nor admission of the truth of a history." 
"The true Christian is not the man who knows history." "Christianity 
should know that faith is not merely a history or science. To have faith is 
nought else than for a man to make his will one with God's, and take 
up God's word and might in his will, so that twain, God's will and man's 
will, turn to one being and substance. Thereupon in the man Christ, in his 
passion, his dying, his death, and uprising, in his own humanity, is reckoned 
for righteousness, so that the man becomes Christ, that is after the spiritual 
man. ... He who teaches and wills otherwise is yet in the whoredom of 
Babylon." — J. Bohme. 

^' Here again the vehement expression of mysticism, "When reason tells 

162 Ethical Studies 

In one way faith is of course only ideal, for the bad self does 
not cease. Yet religion is here very different from morality. 
Recalling to the reader what we said as to the meaning of 
"evolution" or "progress" (p. 126), we say here that morality is 
an evolution or progress. The end, which is involved in these, is 
becoming realized in the evolution or progress, and therefore is 
not yet real; and so in morality we have the end presented as 
what claims to be real, together with the process of its realization, 
and that means its nonreality. Here we are not what we are, 
and must welcome a progress ; though that means a contradiction, 
which again we know we are not. But for religious faith the end 
of the evolution is presented as that which, despite the fact of the 
evolution, is already evolved; or rather which stands above the 
element of event, contradiction, and finitude. Despite what 
seems, we feel that we are more than a progress or evolution, 
in fact not that at all, but now fully real; and this full reality of 
ourselves we present to ourselves as an object, and by recognizing, 
both by judgment and will, in that object our real self, we 
anticipate, or rather rise above the sphere of, progress. Ourselves 
being one with that object, we say we are a whole, and harmonious 
now. So far as we are not so, we are mere appearance; and by 
the standing will to negate that seeming self, we are one with the 
true and real self. For this point of view and in this sphere (not 
outside it) imputation ceases, though the bad self is still a fact; 
and in this sense faith remains only ideal. 

But that it is in any other sense merely ideal is a vulgar and 
gross error which, so far as it rests on St. Paul, rests on an entire 
misunderstanding of him. In faith we do not rise by the intellect 
to an idea, and leave our will somewhere else behind us. Where 
there is no will to realize the object, there is no faith; and where 
there are no works, there is no will. If works cease, will has 
ceased; if will has ceased, faith has ceased. Faith is not the 

thee, 'Thou art outside God,' then answer thou, 'No, I am in God, I am in 
heaven, in it, in him, and for eternity will never leave him. The devil may 
keep my sins, and the world my flesh; I live in God's will, his life shall be 
my life, his will my will; I will be dead in my reason that he may live in 
me, and all my deeds shall be his deeds.' " 

Concluding Remarks 163 

desperate leap of a moment; in true religion there is no one 
washing which makes clean. In Pauline language, that "I have 
died," have in idea and by will anticipated the end, proves itself 
a teality only by the fact that "I die daily," do perpetually in 
my particular acts will the realization of the end which is antic- 
ipated. Nor does faith mean simply works; it means the works 
of faith ; it means that the ideal, however incompletely, is realized. 
But, on the other hand, because the ideal is not realized com- 
pletely and truly as the ideal, therefore I am not justified by the 
works, which issue from faith, as works; since they remain im- 
perfect. I am justified solely and entirely by the ideal identifica- 
tion; the existence of which in me is on the other hand indicated 
and guaranteed by works, and in its very essence implies them. 

What we have now to do is to ask. What is the object with 
which the self is made one by faith? For our answer to this 
question we must go to the facts of the Christian consciousness. 
But the reader must remember that we shall touch these facts 
solely so far as is necessary to bring out the connection between 
religion and morality. We are to keep to a minimum, and the 
reader must not conclude that we repudiate whatever we say 
nothing about. 

The object, which by faith the self appropriates, is in Christian- 
ity nothing alien from and outside the world, not an abstract 
divine which excludes the human; but it is the inseparable unity 
of human^* and divine. It is the ideal which, as will, afl&rms itself 
in and by will; it is will which is one with the ideal. And this 
whole object, while presented in a finite individual form, is not 
yet truly presented. It is known, in its truth, not until it is appre- 
hended as an organic human-divine totality; as one body with 
diverse members, as one self which, in many selves, realizes, 
wills, and loves itself, as they do themselves in it. 

And for faith this object is the real, and the only real. What 
seems to oppose it is, if fact, not reality: and this seeming fact 

** By the term "human" we understand all rational finite mind. Whether 
that exists or not outside our planet is not a matter which concerns us, 
though it does touch very nearly certain forms of Christian belief. 

164 Ethical Studies 

has two forms: one the imperfection and evil in the heart, the 
inner self; and the other the imperfection and evil in the world of 
which my external self is a part. In both these spheres, the 
inner and outer, the object of religion is real; and the object has 
two corresponding sides, the inner and personal, and the external 
side; which two sides are sides of a single whole. 

Faith involves the belief (1) that the course of the external 
world, despite appearances, is the realization of the ideal will; (2) 
that on the inner side the human and divine are one: or the belief 
(1) that the world is the realization of humanity as a divine 
organic whole ;^^ and (2) that with that whole the inner wills of 
particular persons are identified. Faith must hold that, in biblical 
language, there is "a kingdom of God," that there is an organism 
which realizes itself in its members, and also in those members, 
on the subjective side, wills and is conscious of itself, as they 
will and are conscious of themselves in it. 

If the reader will refer back to "My Station and its Duties" 
(p. 113) , he will see that what we had there in the relative totality 
of the political organism, we have here once more, though with a 
difference. That difference is that (1) what there was finite (one 
amongst and against others) is here infinite (a whole in itself), 
and what there was in a manner visible is here invisible; (2) the 
relation of the particular subject to the whole was there immediate 
unity by unreflecting habituation and direct perception; here it 
involves the thought which rises above the given, and the con- 
sciousness of a presupposed and suppressed estrangement. 

Here, as in the world of my station, we have the objective side, 
the many aflSrmations of the one will, the one body, the real 
ideal humanity, which in all its members is the same, although in 
every one it is different; and which is completely realized not in 
any one this or that, nor in any mere "collective unity" of such 
particulars, but only in the whole as a whole. And we have the 
subjective personal side, where the one will of the whole is, 

^^ I need not say that here are very great diflBculties. Apart from others, 
the relation of the physical world to the divine will is a well-known problem. 
But we have nothing to do with the (possible or impossible) solution of 
these questions. We have to keep to what is contained in the religious 
consciousness, and that we take to be as above. 

Concluding Remarks 165 

in its unity with the conscious members, self-conscious, and 
wills itself as the personal identity of the universal and particular 

Such is the object, the fore-realized divine ideal; and by faith 
the particular man has to make that his, to identify himself 
therewith, behold and feel himself therewith identified, and in his 
own self-consciousness have the witness of it. And this, as we 
explained, is done by the dying to the private self as such, by the 
bestowal of it on the object, and by the living in the self which is 

^^ By faith, and so far as faith holds, the ideal as the self, and the self as 
the ideal, is all that is real; and so, on the external side of my works I 
regard myself as, with others, the member or function of the divine whole. 
What falls outside, however much a fact, is still unreal. Again, on the 
inside, through faith I, as the mere this me, no longer am; but only I as the 
self-conscious personal will of the divine, the spirit of the whole, which, as 
that spirit, knows itself in me. On both sides, though the form is not 
swallowed up nor lost, yet the mere particular content of the self has for 
faith disappeared. 

But there is a difference on the two sides, which was also there in "My 
Station," but the losing sight of which was there not likely to lead to con- 
fusion; while here a confusion on this head may happen, and is a serious 
matter. To explain — on the inside the particular self knows and feels itself 
now immediately one with the universal, which is the will of all selves; but 
on the outside, its realization in works, it is only one member of the whole, 
one function or set of functions which is not, and which falls outside of, 
other sides or sets of functions. So long as it remains on the inside, the self 
is not apart from other selves; it is when it comes out to act that it is 
forced to distinguish itself. 

It is quite true that, when we act, on the inside also the whole will is for 
each person diverse; for it is not a universal which remains inert. It is 
presented in a specialized form as what is a relative "to be done" in such 
and such a case, which, if reflected on, is seen to be not other cases — but on 
the inner side this reflection, and hence this discrimination, does not exist. 
The member feels and knows itself, not as this member distinct from that 
member, but (since for faith the bad self is not) immediately one with the 
will of the entire organism. On the outside, on the other hand, the knowl- 
edge of its distinctness is forced upon it. There its realization is indeed 
the affirmation of the will of the whole, but the entire whole is not there; 
some of it is elsewhere, and, as a whole, it is realized only in the whole, 
which this or that man is not. In its works the self-conscious function finds 
that it is not other functions; it remains finite, and aU possibility of the 
confounding the merely human with the divine is excluded. 

166 Ethical Studies 

one with the divine ideal that is felt and known as the only real 
self, and now too as my self. To our previous remarks on this 
head we have nothing to add, and must proceed to discuss more 
closely the relation of religion to morality. 

These, as we saw, are to a certain extent the same; and the 
question at once arises. Has the divine will of the religious con- 
sciousness any other content than the moral ideal? We answer, 
Certainly not. Religion is practical; it means doing something 
which is a duty. Apart from duties, there is no duty; and as all 
moral duties are also religious, so all religious duties are also 

In order to be, religion must do. Its practice is the realization 
of the ideal in me and in the world. Separate religion from the 
real world, and you will find it has nothing left it to do ; it becomes 
a form, and so ceases. The practical content which religion carries 
out comes from the state, society, art, and science. But the 
whole of this sphere is the world of morality, and all our duties 
there are moral duties. And if this is so, then this religious duty 
may collide with that religious duty, just as one moral duty may 
be contrary to another; but that religion, as such, should be in 
collision with morality, as such, is out of the question. 

So far religion and morality are the same; though, as we have 
seen, they are also different. The main difference is that what 
in morality only is to be, in religion somehow and somewhere 
really is, and what we are to do is done. Whether it is thought of 
as what is done now, or what will be done hereafter, makes in this 
respect no practical difference. They are different ways of look- 
ing at the same thing; and, whether present or future, the reality 
is equally certain. The importance for practice of this religious 
point of view is that what is to be done is approached, not with 
the knowledge of a doubtful success, but with the forefelt cer- 
tainty of already accomplished victory. 

Morality, the process of realization, thus survives within reli- 
gion. It is only as mere morality that it vanishes; as an element 
it remains and is stimulated. Not only is strength increased by 

^' Religion in the sense of the cultus, etc., will be considered lower down. 

Concluding Remarks 167 

assurance of success, but in addition the importance of success 
is magnified. The individual life for religion is one with the 
divine; it possesses infinite worth, a value no terms can express. 
And the bad gains a corresponding intensity of badness. It is 
infinitely evil, so that, for the religious consciousness, different 
amounts of badness are not measurable. All men are equally, 
because utterly, sinful. But this extreme of evil is therefore the 
more easy to subdue. It is not a reality against a mere ideal, but 
a mere fact which is contrary to the whole reality, an unutterable 
contradiction. Other incentives to good also come in. For the 
religious consciousness evil is an offense against what we love, and 
what loves us, not against something not real, which no one can 
well love. This makes evil worse, and more painful, and increases 
accordingly the power of good. All external control disappears, 
and in its place is gratitude to that which has conquered, confi- 
dence in it, and inability to be false to it.^^ 

It is the same objective will, which in "My Station" we see 
accomplished, in ideal morality know should be accomplished, 
and in religion by faith believe accomplished, which reflects itself 
into itself on the subjective side; and thence reasserts itself 
explicitly as the real identity of the human and divine will. And 
so the content of religion and morality is the same, though the 
spirit in which it is done is widely different. 

But all this, we may be told, though true to a certain extent, is 
one-sided; there is religion beyond all this. And this objection must 
be attended to. We have never lost sight of the fact it rests upon, 
although we may have seemed to do so. That fact is what some 
would call religion proper, the creed, the public cultus, and the 
sphere of private devotion. These We must now consider, but no 
further than we are obliged, i. e., so far as the question is touched, 

^® We had this, too, in "My Station and its Duties." Let me remark that, 
if humanity is a collection, active gratitude to it is impossible, without the 
most childish self-delusion. Unless there is a real identity in men, the 
"Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these" becomes an absurdity. And I 
have never heard of anyone who, owing a debt to one man, thought he could 
pay it by giving to another man who was like the first, no matter how like. 

168 Ethical Studies 

Has religious duty another content than the moral content? 

Put in this way, the question is on our view of morality absurd. 
If anything ought to be done, then it must be a moral duty; and 
the notion of religious duty, as such, outside of and capable of 
colliding with moral duty as such, is preposterous nonsense. If 
it is a religious duty to be "religious," then it is also a moral duty 
to be religious; precisely as, if it is a moral duty to be moral, it 
is also a religious duty to be moral. 

A better way to put the question is, Does passing from the mere 
moral sphere into the religious introduce a new order of duties, to 
take in which morality has now to be extended? That, however, 
is again an improper question, since, if it is right to be thus "re- 
ligious," we have no business previously to narrow morality, i. e., 
to exclude religiousness from the ideal which morality is to realize. 
It seems quite plain that the sphere of morality is the sphere of 
practice, and the sphere of practice is the sphere of morality. 
There is no escaping this conclusion; and then, so far as religion 
is practical, the worlds of morality and religion must coincide. 

What is really at issue is this. Is religion altogether practical? 
Is, that is to say, the theoretical element of it coordinate with or 
subordinate to the practical element? Does religion, like art and 
science, include a theoretical sphere, which in respect of its pro- 
duction in and by the subject is practice, but, in itself and as 
produced, is not so ? And next, if there is such a region, how does 
it stand to practice? Is it subsidiary to that, or is it an end in 
itself, when not brought under the practical end? And then 
further, how in respect of such a region is morality situated? 

Instead of trying to give direct answers, the best way to clear 
the matter will be to begin with the extreme of a one-sided view: 
and, first, there is an opinion which may be said simply to identify 
religion with orthodoxy, with the holding for true what is true. 
No doubt right doctrine is a very important matter, but does that 
make it religion? Put it to the religious consciousness, and the 
answer is. No. It is the belief "with the heart" that is wanted; 
and where that is not, religion is not. Else even the very devils 
would be religious; for they, as we are told, go further even than 
is required of them, and add to orthodoxy the fear of God. 

Concluding Remarks 169 

So, in morality, a man must know what is right; but no one is 
moral simply because he has that knowledge. In both cases you 
cannot do, without knowing what you are to do; but mere know- 
ing, apart from doing, is neither religion nor morality. 

The next modification of this one-sided opinion is the view, 
which is all too popular, and says, "No doubt it is true that to 
know is not enough; action ought to follow; but, for all that, it is 
religon when I say my prayers, or meditate, or go to church, and 
that whether it goes any further, and whether anything comes of 
it, or not." 

By denying such a doctrine we ought not to give ofEense to 
Christians. Whether we shall give offense or not is another matter. 
We are sorry if it is so; but nevertheless we deny the assertion 
and we think that on our side we have the religious consciousness^* 
and the New Testament. There we do not have the love of God 
and man put side by side, as things which exist or can exist apart, 
but, where the latter fails, there fails also the former, and with 
it, I suppose, religion. There we are told that "pure religion" 
means duty to the afflicted, and the "world," by which we are not 
to be spotted, is hardly all spheres outside our devotions, not every 
region where the authority of the clergyman ceases. 

We maintain that neither church-going, meditation, nor prayer, 
except so far as it reacts on practice and subserves that, is religious 
at all. Aesthetic or speculative contemplation it may be; it may 
be a production of the feeling which results from the satisfied 
religious will; but religious it is not, except so far as it means will 
to do: and it is not that will, except so far as it manifests itself in 
religious-moral acts, external or internal — acts, that is, which 
realize the social, ideal-social, or ideal self, or again which are 
means to such realization. 

It is the same with morality. I may retire into my conscience, 
■^njoy there the happiness of virtue, edify myself with, and find 
'' leasure in, the contemplation of it in myself or others; but that by 
."'self is surely not moral. It may be a good thing to do this, but, 
•rso, it is a good only so far as it strengthens the will for good, 

.'I ant happy to say that "religieux" has no English equivalent. 


170 Ethical Studies 

and so issues in practice. If it go beyond that, it is at best harm- 
less; but it may be, and more often is, pernicious and positively 
immoral. To dwell on the satisfaction which comes from right 
doing need not be wrong, but it is very dangerous, it is a most 
slippery positon; for the moment it leads us to enjoyment which 
does not arise from function, or does not react to stimulate func- 
tion, then, from that moment, it is bad and goes to corrupt. 

If a man were to please himself with thoughts of virtue, and 
then go out, neglect the virtue, and fall into the vice, would that 
be morality? But if a man does the same by religion, there are 
people who call it "religious." 

The true doctrine is that devotional exercises, and sacraments, 
and church-goings, not only should not and ought not to go by 
themselves, but that by themselves they simply are not religious at 
all. They are the isolating a sphere of religion which, so isolated, 
loses the character of religion and is often even positively sinful, 
a hollow mockery of the divine, which takes the enjoyment without 
giving the activity and degenerates into what may be well enough 
as aesthetic or contemplative, but, for all that, is both irreligious 
and immoral. By themselves, when religiously considered, these 
things are not ends at all; they are so only when they are means 
to faith, and so to will, and so to practice in the world. 

But how is it that such one-sided views, such gross mistakes, are 
possible? This is not very hard to understand. And in the first 
place (1) both in the moral and religious will is implied knowl- 
edge, and it obviously matters for practice what a man does know. 
Hence correct views are wanted; and this, which so far is true, is 
then twisted into making religion consist in the having right 
opinions, or in orthodoxy. But as we have seen, the presence of 
the religious object for the theoretical consciousness, in any form, 
is not religion. 

(2) The second mistake is more common. In morality what 
we know we feel or see, and cannot doubt. There is nothing 
to believe against appearances. We have a claim and the con- 
sciousness that this is satisfied or unsatisfied, but nothing beyon 
ourselves to hold for true; except so far as in the social object ^ 
is before our eyes. But in religion, despite of appearances, j^q 

Concluding Remarks 171 

have to believe that something is real. We must have an inward 
assurance that the reality is above the facts; and we must carry 
that out against facts in which we cannot see the inward reality, 
and seem to see what is contrary thereto. It is by faith in our 
reconcilement with the invisible one reality that we are justified. 

That inward assurance, the self-consciousness that we are one 
with the divine, and one with others because one with the divine, 
naturally does not exist without expressing itself. And moreover 
it is right that it should express itself because that expression 
reacts most powerfully upon the self-consciousness, to intensify it, 
and so strengthen the conviction and will in which faith consists. 
It is right that the certainty of identity with the divine, and with 
others in the divine, should be brought home by the foretasted 
pleasure of unalloyed union; and that in short is the rationale of 
the cultus. The cultus is a means to the strengthening of faith, 
and is an end in itself by subserving that end. As anything more 
and beyond it is not an end; it may be harmless, and again it 
may be the destruction of true religion. 

And the religious community entails signs of communion, and 
these, as the cultus generally, entail ministers; and it is generally 
found more convenient to have certain persons set apart, just as 
again the state generally finds it convenient to support and 
regulate one or more religious communities.^" These ministers, 
however appointed, are a means to a means to the end; and here 
we have the rationale of the clerical office. 

You can have true religion without sacraments or public wor- 

*** Religious communities may be called "churches"; but churches in this 
sense must not be confounded with the Church proper. That is the whole 
body of Christ, and whether it is limited or not depends on the answer to the 
question whether the spirit of Christ is limited; whether it is visible or not, 
is answered with that answer; as also the questions whether it can be 
divided, reunited, and so forth, A true view of the Church is of the last 
importance. From that view, in our opinion, it follows that in the one 
Church proper there is no hierarchy, no spiritual superior, and can be none, 
because the spirit of Christianity excludes such things. Wherever there are 
-ecclesiastical superiors (as it is convenient that there should be), there 

)5o facto you have a finite religious body, which, as a consequence, cannot 

^ nor represent the Church proper. 

172 Ethical Studies 

ship, and again both without clergymen; just as you can have 
clergymen and sacraments without true religion. And if a part 
of the clergy think that they stand in a more intimate relation with 
the divine Spirit than the rest of the community do, then they both 
go against the first principles of Christianity, and moreover any- 
one who does not shut his eyes can see that the facts of life 
confute them. What Christianity, if we mistake not, tells them is 
that their gifts and functions being not those of others, they have 
the one spirit in another way from others; but when they want 
to go from an "other" to a "higher," then we must tell them that 
there are steps wanted to reach that conclusion, and such steps as 
Christianity cannot admit. 

The sum of the matter is this. Practical faith is the end, and 
what helps that is good because that is good; and where a religi- 
ous ordinance does not help that, there it is not good. And often 
it may do worse than not help, and then it is positively hurtful. 

So with religious exercises, and what too exclusively is called 
personal piety. They are religious if they are the simple expres- 
sion of, or helps to, religion; and if not, then they are not 
religious, and perhaps even irreligious. Religion issues in the 
practical realizing of the reconcilement; and where there is no 
such realization, there is no faith, and no religion. 

Neither against the clergy, nor the sacraments, nor private 
devotion am I saying one word, and the reader who so under- 
stands me altogether misunderstands me. For a large number 
of our clergy I have a sincere personal respect, and there is 
scarcely any office which in my eyes is higher than that of the 
minister. And I recognize fully the general necessity both for 
private devotion and public worship. It is the abuse, and the 
excess of them, against which we have to protest. Whatever is 
the expression of the religious spirit which carries itself out in the 
world is religious and good, unless it goes to excess, and the 
excess is measured by the failure to strengthen or the weakening 
of the will. Just so any institution, observance, or discipline (it 
matters not what) which strengthens the religious will is good, 
provided it does so strengthen it as a whole, and is not in other 
ways contrary to religion and morality. The same holds good ir 

Concluding Remarks 173 

the moral sphere; there we may have ascetic exercises which 
strengthen the will, and are therefore, and so far as they do that, 
good; but not good, or even bad, when they go beyond. But as 
to what in detail is legitimate or not, all this is matter of particular 
fact, with which we have nothing to do. 

To repeat, public and private exercises are religious and good 
as the simple voice of, or as means to the strengthening of, the 
religious will. That will consists in the faith that overcomes the 
world, by turning it into the Christian world which for faith it is. 
The inner sphere of religion, which brings home to itself its 
assurance and its bliss, is only the inner sphere, and by itself is 
not religion. By itself it is not even the inner, for it is so only 
when it is the inner of the outer ; and that outer, where faith fails, 
is not, and with it goes the inner as such. A sensuous or semi- 
sensuous gloating over the pleasures of the anticipated result is, 
in morals as in religion, when considered in reference to the will, 
a mere debauchery. Here as there it is the Hedonism which 
kills practice; and considered as Oeuipia, it belongs to art or 
science, not religion at all. Furthermore, sensitiveness or inten- 
sity of the religious consciousness is no more religion than that 
of the moral consciousness is morality; nor again is a right per- 
ception in these matters any more than a right perception. It is 
religion only when the divine will, of which for faith the world 
is the realization, reflects itself in us ; and, with the personal energy 
of our own and its self-consciousness, carries out both its and 
our will into the world, which is its own and ours, and gives us, 
in the feeling which results from function, that inner assurance 
of identity which precedes and accompanies the action of our will. 
And thus for religion and morality the content of the will is the 
same, though the knowledge and the spirit are widely different. 

If this is so, then our Essays have, in a way too imperfect, yet 
brought us to the end, where morality is removed and survives in 
its fulfillment. In our journey we have not seen much, and much 
that we have seen was perhaps little worth the effort, or might 
have been had without it. Be that as it may, the hunt after 
pleasure in any shape has proved itself a delusion, and the form 
of duty a snare, and the finite realization of "my station" was 

174 Ethical Studies 

truth indeed, and a happiness that called to us to stay, but was 
too narrow to satisfy wholly the spirit's hunger; and ideal moral- 
ity brought the sickening sense of inevitable failure. Here where 
we are landed at last, the process is at an end, though the best 
activity here first begins. Here our morality is consummated in 
oneness with God, and everywhere we find that "immortal Love," 
which builds itself forever on contradiction, but in which the 
contradiction is eternally resolved. 

Hie nullus labor est, ruborque nuUus; 
Hoc juvit, juvat, et diu juvabit; 
Hoc non deficit, incipitque semper. 



Date Due 
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